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Nets in control from start, hang on at end to finally beat LeBron and gain confidence

Nov 1, 2013, 11:51 PM EDT

Heat Nets Basketball AP

There are no statement games on Día de los Muertos.

I’m not sure there are statement games in early April either, but right now it’s far, far too early to talk about them. Teams change and evolve a lot over the course of a season. A lot. Plus regular season series are not reliable predictors of postseason success anyway.

All that said, if the Nets are going to challenge the Heat in late April or May, they need to believe they can beat the two time defending champions. Deron Williams said they believed they were better than the Heat, yet they had lost 17-straight games to a LeBron James team. Even with all the changes for the Nets they needed something to back up that confidence. They talked about it at shootaround.

That step they took Friday night. Brooklyn used some impressive ball movement and a fluid offense, plus some timely defense to build a healthy double-digit lead over Miami, then they hung on at the end to win 101-100.

Miami looked like they coasted early — this is their third straight game with a slow start — and were not sharp when they tried to turn it on late, with that effort they are now 1-2 on the season. If Eric Spoelstra was looking for something to get the attention of his players, that should do it.

Brooklyn should gain a measure of confidence from this win.

Brooklyn was very active early defensively and their length seemed to throw the Heat off their game offensively, which had the Nets off to a quick 11-3 lead. Kevin Garnett takes on the best post player of the opposition and with that Brook Lopez can be a weakside shot blocker, he picked up a couple blocks that way in this game and altered other shots.

On offense the Nets not only moved the ball but cut well off the ball and that combination led to a very fluid offense. Again, it’s two games into the season but if they can keep this up they will have a very powerful offensive game that people who love good basketball will want to watch.

Brooklyn won the third quarter 31-20 and was comfortably in control, until a late fourth quarter 10-0 run by Miami made the end dramatic. However, Ray Allen missed a free throw (stock up on canned goods, it could be a sign of the apocalypse) while Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce hit theirs, which overcame a LeBron corner three that made it interesting. Chris Bosh hit his free throws too, down 2 with three seconds left he needed to miss the second one and didn’t. Like a Bosh.

Paul Pierce had 19 points on 10 shots, Joe Johnson 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting to lead the Nets. Brooklyn got good minutes off the bench from Shaun Livingston and a hustling Alan Anderson as well.

LeBron put up 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting, Dwyane Wade 21 points on 12 shots and he was 10-of-11 on free throws. But neither looked especially sharp. Like in the Heat’s opening night win over the Bulls they were fine, but in that game the bench had a huge night. Not this time.

If these teams meet in the playoffs, don’t bring up this game as predictive of what will happen. But the Nets can feel a little more confident, and that’s a step.

  1. papichulo55 - Nov 2, 2013 at 12:14 AM

    Beasley and Oden better be ready by the Spring, because tonights Heat are not deep enough to beat Brooklyn 4 of 7.

    • brutl - Nov 2, 2013 at 12:49 AM

      LOL yeah, OK.
      I’ve rarely if ever seen a playoff game where all 15 players were suited up, let alone got on the court.
      The 2x champs have nothing to prove out there, and it showed in how they played tonight. It’s a different story, come April.

    • spthegr8 - Nov 2, 2013 at 1:45 AM

      I don’t have a dog in the fight but its WAAAAAAYYYYY to early to be coming to conclusions about which team is better. But personally, if I’m betting my $ on it. I’m going with the Heat. They are the best, until someone proves otherwise and proving your better doesn’t mean beating them 1 game. ( pre-season doesn’t count ) I’m not saying the Nets don’t have a chance, I just don’t like their chances. Not hating, Just Sayin’!!!!

    • zoomy123 - Nov 2, 2013 at 1:51 AM

      Excuse me? Miami has the deepest bench in the NBA, and one of the deepest benches in recent memory. Norris Cole, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, and Birdman. That’s already 9 deep. And everybody on the Miami Heat bench has championship experience…all the way down to the 9th man. The only people on Brooklyn’s bench that’s even playoff tested is Jason Terry.

      • jjordannba - Nov 2, 2013 at 8:52 AM

        Cmon man, at least know what you’re talking about, AK47 has extensive playoff experience with the Utah Jazz. And what makes the Nets bench good is that even after their HUGE Starting Lineup they STILL have tremendous size coming in.

        Ak47 a versatile long player who can gaurd multiple positions, Blatche is a big guy who has always been a pretty talented player and you saw him give the Heat trouble in the 3rd quarter, Shaun Livingston is a tall PG who has a clear advantage when he’s being guarded by the likes of a Chalmers as we saw. You have Alan Anderson who plays with alot of energy and can provide shooting, you have the Jet I dont even have to explain why he’s an important contributer off the bench. And then you have Reggie Evans ANOTHER big guy who didn’t even play much in that game but when he does provides an energy spark for his team by being a hustle guy who grabs an INSANE amount of rebounds for the amount of minutes he plays.

        So it’s debatable which team has the better bench, I give it to the Nets though.

      • zoomy123 - Nov 2, 2013 at 3:16 PM

        I really hate when you say one thing and then somebody else comes along and goes on a huge tangent attacking arguments that you never made. Do you know how to read?

        First, this isn’t an argument about who has the better bench. I never said anything about Miami having a better bench or the Nets having the better bench. So, almost everything you wrote is already IRRELEVANT.

        Second, do you know what playoff tested means? It doesn’t mean going to the playoffs a whole bunch of times and then going out in the first round. In 2007 the Utah Jazz made it to the WCF and AK47 shot 42%, 33% from 3, and averaged a measly 9 ppg in 32 minutes per game. And in 2008 Kirilenko shot 48%, 18% from 3, and averaged 13 ppg in 32 minutes per game. That doesn’t sound tested to me. So, like I said the ONLY player on Brooklyn’s bench who’s playoff tested is Jason Terry. Miami has championship experience all the way down to 9 deep.

        The idea that you could declare that the bench of a team that’s played together for 2 games is better than the bench of a 2x champion is already stupid because it’s based on PURE SPECULATION. Moreover, the regular season is NOT like the playoffs. In the playoffs the game slows down considerably, the defense gets tighter, it becomes a grind, and the other team is studying you on tape every waking hour.

        If you think Shaun Livingston, Andray Blatche, Alan Anderson, and Reggie Evans constitute a good bench, then you need a brain transplant. These guys are a bunch of nobodies with no playoff experience and no credentials. And this was evidenced last night when Miami was down by 13 with less than 6 minutes left in the 4th quarter and came back ON THE ROAD.

      • jjordannba - Nov 4, 2013 at 4:16 PM

        Sir, you’re a little late. But anyways you did say Miami has the deepest bench in the NBA, correct? So I disagreed and told you why the Nets bench is deeper than theirs. And if you think the Nets bench is a bunch of nobodies then you simply just dont know basketball, you know ESPN haha. And when the game slows in the playoffs this is only going to benefit the Nets even more as they have already been called the slowest least athletic team. The have so many options in the half court, its going to be a problem. Just watch.

  2. dolphindubs - Nov 2, 2013 at 12:37 AM


    • Anoesis - Nov 2, 2013 at 1:04 AM

      Yup, that’s exactly how the Heat looked tonight.

      • zoomy123 - Nov 2, 2013 at 1:54 AM

        If Miami was “yawn” tonight and they only lost by 1 point, what does that say about Brooklyn who had a 13 point lead deep in the 4th quarter?

      • belleby123 - Nov 2, 2013 at 8:09 AM

        When was the last time Miami had a losing record at any point in the season? I have to give credit to Kurt Helin though: 5 excuses in the first two paragraphs has to be some kind of record!

  3. ji8888 - Nov 2, 2013 at 2:23 AM


    • davidly - Nov 2, 2013 at 6:06 AM

      Sorry, the lineal title belongs to Philly. Whoever beats them will be the nexx regler season champeen.

  4. beach305 - Nov 2, 2013 at 2:38 AM

    Following Miami during this last three years, you get a sense on how the team works itself into shape.

  5. maikoch - Nov 2, 2013 at 3:11 AM

    LeBron is the most overrated player in NBA history. He has one real championship (e.g., non strike shortened season) and that one required a giant choke by the Spurs.

    • jimeejohnson - Nov 2, 2013 at 1:06 PM

      You trying to beat Canton for biggest PEA BRAIN on these blogs?

      • mydoghasfleez - Nov 2, 2013 at 5:19 PM


    • davidly - Nov 3, 2013 at 1:50 AM

      He’d have to get in line to be the most overrated, know what I’m sayin’? I agree with the rest of your comment, though.

  6. gofinsgoheatfloria - Nov 2, 2013 at 7:15 AM

    Yes you do, and it can drive you crazy. Judging from comments Spo has made from time to time, it drives the coaching staff even crazier.

  7. 1972wasalongtimeago - Nov 2, 2013 at 7:29 AM

    How funny would it have been if the Heat pulled this game out at the end. Nets were in control the whole time. Pierce treating it like it’s Game 7. Nets had a competent head coach (the incompetent one comes back soon). Heat playing like they wanted to win but not like they REALLY wanted to win. Even the Nets crowd wasn’t chanting Let’s Go Heat. It was all Nets last night.

    …..And then they were up by one with time left. GULP. Needed Ray to miss a FT at the end to beat is. What “statement” does that make?

    This being said, the Nets floor and their black Unis look really good,

  8. wamj2008 - Nov 2, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    Boston strong.

  9. jbeagles23 - Nov 2, 2013 at 8:20 AM

    The nets treated that like a playoff game. The heat treated it like a regular season game. The nets won by one

  10. jbeagles23 - Nov 2, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    Anytime the heat put in Joel and you win, it’s no longer even a moral victory

  11. jjordannba - Nov 2, 2013 at 8:34 AM

    Guys guys guys maybe the Nets just treated it like they wanted to win…like you’re supposed to, cmon now.

  12. jjordannba - Nov 2, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    Just cause the Heat didn’t want to step up to the challenge and Lebron wanted to stand around in the corners not being aggressive at all being almost useless to his team for almost 3 quarters, that’s not the Nets problem. If anything it’s a Miami Heat problem. Keep slacking.

  13. rtfinch - Nov 2, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    Yay the heat fans are back! Win the first game “the heat are in mid-season form ready for another ring” lose the next 2 “its just the regular season they’re just playing around”

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Nov 2, 2013 at 10:44 AM

      It’s not the bulls game that made Heat fans feel good about their team. It’s the last 39 months. I actually didn’t think the Heat played well against the Bulls.

      And if you haven’t noticed, every team, every article, every story is always focused on one thing. Beat the Heat. That’s all above cares about. I assure you the Heat did not come into this season focused on beating any one team, especially on November 1

      • jimeejohnson - Nov 2, 2013 at 1:08 PM

        Not a Heat fan but not a Heat hating pea brain loser, either. This was opening night for the revamped Nets, and they certainly wanted the win more than Miami. Hope a good rivalry develops between these two clubs.

      • rtfinch - Nov 3, 2013 at 7:02 PM

        well i know this and you know this, but ESPN and other fans do not. hence the comment directed towards fans an analysts, not the players.

  14. antistratfordian - Nov 2, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    I would not expect a team with the talent of the Nets to lose their home opener. Just like Miami wasn’t going to lose theirs and Chicago wasn’t going to lose theirs, etc.

    That being said, what might surprise most is how the Nets pulled this one out. It wasn’t with size. Miami forced them to play their game and they escaped with a win when Chris Bosh made a free throw he was trying to miss (that’s the kind of day it was for the Heat).

  15. borderline1988 - Nov 2, 2013 at 11:14 PM

    I have two thoughts about this game:

    1) I know the author mentions Allen missing a FT as if it was a ‘sign of the apocalypse’, and maybe I’m imagining things, but I have a lot of memories of Allen missing important FTs. Not to take away from his clutchness (he hit pehaps the most clutch shot in NBA history last year).

    2) For all you Heat doubters, remember the Knicks blowing out the Heat in the regular season last year, especially early on?

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