The red-hot Brooklyn Nets brought all of their players, which was nice of them to do. Everyone in the NBA knows what a chore it is to play the league’s Florida teams on back-to-back nights.
So, all the Nets stars showed up, and here’s what happened: The Heat gave Ray Allen’s clutch shooting the night off.
Allen had won back-to-back games with late three-pointers entering Saturday but this time the Heat’s come back came well before the last minute at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat trailed by as many as 14 points in the game, but took control in the third quarter and won 102-89. Miami (12-3) is 8-0 at home.
“We didn’t necessarily play our best in first half but in many ways this was our best win,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It was good to see the guys playing for each other.”
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Two nights after being critiqued publicly by Charles Barkley for losing a step of two, Dwyane Wade delivered his best game of the season. He finished with 34 points, a season high, and had seven assists and a rebound.
“Obviously I wanted to play better. I was struggling a little bit,” said Wade, who arrived at the arena around 3:30 p.m. to prepare early for the game. “For me, my goal is by All-Star to feel better coming off of knee surgery but I worked hard the last couple days. I didn’t take no time off and I really tried to get my legs under me.”
Wade was 14 of 20 from the field and 5 of 6 from the free-throw line. His previous season high was 28 points. Wade’s alley-oop dunk from Ray Allen in fourth quarter gave him 30 points and came amid a 10-0 run for the Heat. He scored again to give the Heat a 92-81 lead with 4:30 to play.
“It was not a thought in our mind to panic,” Spoelstra said of Wade’s game. “It’s a long season. He started the year with minor injuries and it takes awhile to get into the flow. He’s put in a lot of work behind the scenes.”
The Nets scored just 30 points in the second half and 11 points in the fourth quarter.
LeBron James had 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists. He played lethargically in first quarter but raised his game after it was clear the Nets came to town with chips on their shoulders.
The Heat defeated the Nets by 30 points on Nov.7. Since that time, Brooklyn has transformed itself into one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The Nets (11-5) had won five games in a row before Saturday.
Jerry Stackhouse’s hard foul on a dunk attempt by James changed the game’s dynamic. From there, the Heat outscored the Nets 65-53.
“I think the intensity of the game and the physicality of the game woke us up,” Spoelstra said.
Said James: “I think that’s what kind of sparked us all.”
The Heat shot 51.3 percent from the field despite going 7 of 20 from three-point range. The Nets had 18 turnovers compared to just 10 for Miami.
Led by 12 points from Dwyane Wade, the Heat outscored the Nets 32-19 in the decisive third quarter. A 15-2 run by the Heat in the period featured multiple dunks by Wade, one of James’ signature breakaway, “Statue of Liberty” dunks and a three-pointer by Mike Miller.
Shane Battier missed his second straight game with a strained ligament in his right knee. Rashard Lewis started once again for Battier and once did nothing noteworthy. He finished with two points and a rebound in 14 minutes.
The Heat has come from behind seven times this season when trailing in the second half.
Seven players scored in double figures for the Nets. Andray Blatche led Brooklyn with 20 points and eight rebounds. Deron Williams had 10 points and 12 assists. Jerry Stackhouse had 11 points off the bench.
It was another slow start for the Heat, which has made a nasty habit of slow starts since returning from its six-game road trip last week. The Heat fell behind by 14 points in the second quarter.
A breakaway dunk by Wade with 3:20 left in third quarter tied the score for the first time since early in the game. James’ breakaway dunk followed a timeout. It gave the Heat a two-point lead and, from there, Miami never let go of the game’s momentum.