Chris Andersen is usually the guy causing trouble inside, but on this night he played the role of peacemaker when the fight broke out.
If any one moment summed up the Heat’s passive tendencies at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Saturday night, it was Birdman carrying olive branches into the fourth quarter.
The Nets made their big run in final period and that was before the Nets’ Alan Anderson put the Heat’s Ray Allen on the floor during a scuffle. Neither the Nets’ offensive surge nor the physical confrontation evoked much emotion from the defending back-to-back champions and the Heat instead seemed content with losing its first playoff game of this postseason.
The Nets’ 104-90 victory was its first home-court postseason win against the Heat in franchise history.
“We need to be more aggressive,” said Shane Battier, who finished with two points in 20 minutes. “Playoff basketball isn’t too complicated. The team that’s more aggressive usually wins.”
The Heat went 0-3 against the Nets at Barclays Center in the preseason and regular season combined, and the Heat still hasn’t won a game in Brooklyn. Leading this best-of-7 Eastern Conference playoff series 2-1, the Heat will try again on Monday in Game 4. LeBron James led the Heat with 28 points, and Dwyane Wade had 20, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a balanced scoring effort from the Nets, who made the most of their deep roster for the first time in the series.
Six players scored in double figures for the Nets, with Joe Johnson leading the way with 19 points. Backup center Andray Blatche had 15 points and 10 rebounds and caused problems for the Heat inside for the first time in three games. The Nets outrebounded the Heat 43-27.
Nets Reserve Mirza Teletovic had 12 points off the bench and was 4 of 7 from three-point range. The Nets were 15 of 25 from three-point range as a team.
“They’re looking to shoot threes,” said Miami’s Chris Bosh, who had 12 points and five rebounds. “We know that’s what they want, they’re hunting for them, and we’re going to have to do a better job. … Sometimes we’re just going to have to be more aware.
“Only effort and energy can change that.”
A flurry of three-pointers by the Nets in the third quarter was the difference in the decisive third quarter. Brooklyn was 4 of 6 from three-point range in the period. Meanwhile, the Heat shot 26.3 percent from the field in the period, including 1-of-8 shooting from three-point range. The Nets outscored the Heat 26-14 in the third quarter.
“The third quarter was the deciding factor for us,” James said. “We scored 14 points and allowed them to get everything they wanted, and that changed the game.”
Johnson made a 16-footer to give the Nets a 10-point lead with 5:33 left in the third quarter. A three-pointer by Teletovic then put the Nets ahead 71-59. At that point, the Nets were 8 of 14 from three-point range (57.1 percent). Teletovic then stroked another three-pointer, this time from the top of the key, to break the game open.
“He shoots any shot,” Battier said of Teletovic, “which is always a dangerous player to defend. A lot of shots that most guys wouldn’t take, he’s taking and he’s catching us off guard a little bit.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called a timeout to regroup, but James committed a turnover following the timeout, and Nets guard Deron Williams made a falling away three-pointer with 1:13 left in the third quarter to give the Nets a 77-61 lead.
“The third quarter was an awful quarter for us,” Wade said. “They got everything they wanted, and we didn’t get anything on the offensive end like we normally do, so we have to play better. It was a very good quarter for them and a very bad one for us. You don’t want to do that period, but on the road you’re not winning those games.”
From the beginning, it was easily the most entertaining game of the series. The Heat scored 30 points in the first quarter, going 11 of 17 from the field (64.7 percent), and needed every point. A buzzer beating three-pointer by Nets guard Shaun Livingston to finish the first period cut the Heat’s lead to 30-29.
Things turned ugly in the fourth quarter both on the scoreboard and on the court. A three-pointer by Anderson gave the Nets an 18-point lead with 9:54 left in the game, and Anderson and Allen had to be separated on the Heat’s ensuing offensive possession. In a scuffle away from the ball, the players’ arms became tangled and the exchange escalated when neither player backed down. Allen ended up on the ground after some awkward grappling, and he jumped to his feet and lunged at Anderson. That’s when the Heat’s Andersen stepped in and broke up the posturing. The fight occurred in front of the Nets bench, and Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd rushed onto the court to break up the players.
Spoelstra followed suit and rushed in from the Heat’s bench.