By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
The Nets waited all offseason for their chance to play the Miami Heat on Opening Night at Barclays Center, and they dominated the two-time champs for most of the night on their way to a 101-100 win on Friday night. This was the statement win the Nets had hoped for and it ended a 13-game losing streak against the Heat dating back to March 20, 2009.
The game had a chaotic finish, as the Nets nearly coughed up a 12-point lead in the final three minutes. They appeared on their way to victory when Joe Johnson hit back-to-back threes to give the Nets a 96-84 lead with 2:47 left.
The Heat then rallied, and went on a 10-0 run capped by a Mario Chalmers three with 18 seconds left. Deron Williams then went to the line and made one of two free throws to make it 97-94 with 17 seconds left.
Ray Allen was then fouled by Alan Anderson with seven seconds left and made one of two free throws, a rare miss for a legendary free-throw shooter and a major break for the Nets, as they remained up two. Paul Pierce was fouled on the rebound and he made both free throws to make it 99-95 with seven seconds left.
LeBron James would not be done, as he hit a three to cut the Nets’ lead to one with four seconds left. Joe Johnson went to the line on the inbounds pass and made both to make it 101-98 Nets with three seconds left, plenty of time for the Heat to tie it.
Dwyane Wade threw a baseball-style inbounds pass to Chris Bosh at halfcourt and he was promplty fouled by Kevin Garnett. Bosh made both free throws to cut the Nets’ lead to one, and Brooklyn successfully got the inbounds pass in to Brook Lopez, who dribbled the clock out.
Kevin Garnett summed up how the team played with one word: “Determination.” He continued, “I think we wanted this a little more. No disrespect to the champs and what they are trying to accomplish this year, but we knew playing at home, coming from Cleveland (on Wednesday night) that we would play better. We watched a lot of film and saw our mistakes, so we were locked into what we wanted to do, and we played with that in mind through the whole game. Even though you are going to give up points against a great team like Miami, a bunch of them have been together for a while, this is nothing new to them. But with all that in mind, I thought we played strong and played to the end, and as you saw it was a great game.”
The Nets dominated early, taking an 11-3 lead in the opening minutes and 27-18 at the end of the first quarter, with Brook Lopez dominating and leading the way with seven points. Though the Nets continued to outplay the Heat in the second quarter, Miami, as they typically do, chipped away and tied the game at 47 at halftime.
The Nets came out with a vengeance in the third quarter, and opened the frame with a 17-6 run, with Paul Pierce scoring seven points in that span. The defense was superb in the third quarter, and held Miami to eight points in the first eight minutes. Alan Anderson hit a big three with 58 seconds left in the third to make it 77-64 Brooklyn, and they led 78-67 after three.
Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce led the way with 19 points each, and Brook Lopez chipped in 13. Deron Williams looked good in 27 minutes of action, more than he played on Wednesday in Cleveland as he gets over his ankle injury, and had eight points and eight assists.
A key to this win were the performances of Alan Anderson and Shaun Livingston, who each played big minutes down the stretch. Anderson had eight points in 25 minutes and played great defense. Livingston played 21 minutes, and had four points.
Jason Terry proved once again that he may still have something left, as he had six points and four rebounds in 19 minutes and is ingratiating himself to the Nets fan base by constantly calling on them to cheer the team on from very early in the game.
LeBron James led Miami with 26 points on 11-19 shooting, eight rebounds, and six assists. Dwyane Wade had 21 points, on 5-12 shooting and 10 free throws. Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen had 12 apiece and Shane Battier was held scoreless on 0-for-2 shooting.
Garnett said of the Barclays Center crowd, “This place is electric. I had to stop looking in the crowd. It was a huge distraction, but it was beautiful. The energy in here is incredible. Obviously, I’m coming from Beantown, but big-up to Brooklyn. It’s going to be a pleasure playing here.”
The Opener was Rockin’: