Shaun Livingston continued his reclamation project Wednesday night in Miami.
Livingston controlled both ends of the floor in a 96-95 squeaker against the Miami Heat. Livingston scored 13 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out four assists, but he did most of his work covering LeBron James.
Livingston's length played a role in holding James to a pedestrian night by his standards. He managed only six field goals and turned the ball over five times. Livingston committed three steals, including the clincher with 3.5 seconds left in the game. The Nets guard snuck in front of James and tapped away the ball as the Heat star waited and anticipated a spinning dunk at the rim.
Paul Pierce scored a game-high 27 points for the Nets, who swept all three games from the Heat this season.
With the win, the Nets furthered established the matchup disparity between the two teams. While Miami has the best player, the Nets have the more well-balanced team. Since neither team boasts an interior presence, the Nets' shooters get the edge.
The Nets match up quite poorly against a team like the Detroit Pistons and their twin towers, but the Heat's center wants to play out by the three-point line. Due to this small-ball style, the Nets won a rare rebounding battle by four boards.
But if the Nets can stay healthy, they missed Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko once again, a playoff matchup with the Heat does not seem as daunting as before the season.
Pierce's presence showed up in a big way Wednesday night. Last season, the ball exclusively went to Joe Johnson. Pierce adds another dimension to the late-game strategy.
With a Washington loss, the Nets also leaped a spot from six to five. They'll face the Wizards Saturday night in the nation's capital.