LeBron James and his teammates put a lot of effort into their Halloween outfits for their first road trip of the season. Good thing they concentrated on something.
For the second game in a row, the Heat couldn’t match the energy of an opponent during their home opener and now Miami has its first losing record since 2010. The Heat lost to the Nets 101-100 at Barclays Center on Friday in Brooklyn’s first home game with a lineup that features old Heat rivals Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry.
For the new-look Nets, it was a statement game against the defending back-to-back NBA champions. For the Heat (1-2), it was just the day after Halloween.
On Thursday night, the Heat celebrated the holiday in New York by dressing up in costumes and enjoying themselves perhaps a little too much. Their Halloween revelry came one day after losing to the 76ers and one day before playing a marquee game against one of the most improved teams in the league.
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“It’s a little bit of unmotivated basketball,” LeBron James said. “We just need to have a little bit more sense of urgency. It’s not doomsday right now. We’re good, but we understand what we need to fix and correct.”
The Heat’s championship hangover now puts them below .500 for the first time since losing to the Celtics in the 2010-11 season opener. James led the Heat with 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but the Heat didn’t get much help from its bench, which was outscored 36-22. The loss snapped the Heat’s 13-game winning streak against the Nets. Its 15-game winning streak against the 76ers ended Wednesday.
The Heat trailed by 12 points with 2:47 to play before charging back and making things interesting in the final seconds. Mario Chalmers swished a three-pointer with 18.1 seconds left to cut the Nets’ lead to 96-94, and Deron Williams missed the first of two free throws moments later to give the Heat life.
But Ray Allen missed the second of two free throws with seven seconds left, and the Nets were perfect from the line in the final back-and-forth.
Dwyane Wade scored 21 points, going 5 of 12 from the field, after sitting out against the 76ers because of soreness. Chris Bosh had 17 points, but just six in the second half. The Heat was outrebounded 40-30.
James was called for traveling with 4:14 left in the game, and the Nets converted the turnover into a three-pointer by Joe Johnson. The shot put Brooklyn ahead by 11 points, and Johnson added another three-pointer with 2:47 to play to run the Nets’ lead to 96-84.
Johnson and Paul Piece each had 19 points for the Nets, and Pierce received an ovation from Barclays Center in the fourth quarter when he swatted away a weak shot attempt inside by James. Before the season, James said Pierce was no longer his primary rival in the league.
Brook Lopez had 13 points and six rebounds for Brooklyn, and Andre Blatche added nine points and six rebounds off the bench.
“We’re a step off energetically and on defense right now,” Bosh said. “We just have to wrap our minds around it.”
A driving layup by Shaun Livingston on Bosh gave the Nets an 88-75 lead with 6:55 left, and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra immediately asked for a timeout. It didn’t do much good. The Heat’s energy level was stagnant until the very end.
Similar to its first two games, the Heat fell behind early before clawing its way back. Asserting its size advantage early, Brooklyn led 11-3 to begin the game and used hard fouls to keep the Heat out of the lane. The Heat scored just 18 points in the first quarter after scoring 14 points in the first quarter against Philadelphia.
A dunk by Andrei Kirilenko gave the Nets an 81-69 lead early in the fourth quarter and the arena began chanting “Brook-lyn.” Kirilenko, who signed with the Nets for substantially less than he was worth this offseason, finished with eight points in 12 minutes. Friday was his season debut after missing the Nets’ opener because of back spasms.
More struggles in the third quarter put the Heat in an 11-point hole entering the final 12 minutes of the game. Pierce led the Nets with 11 points in the third quarter and Brooklyn outscored the Heat 31-20 in the period.
A three-point play by Wade with 9:54 in the third quarter cut Brooklyn’s lead to two points, but the Nets pushed ahead behind the muscle of Blatche. He scored three consecutive field goals to give the Nets a 66-55 lead and a finger roll by Johnson put Brooklyn on top 69-55.
Friday was the first time the Heat has lost back-to-back games since Jan.8 and 10 of last year when he dropped consecutive road games at Indiana and Portland.