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Nets' season ends with late missteps

Ray Allen (L) and LeBron James lifted the Heat in the final minutes of a 96-94 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Ray Allen (L) and LeBron James lifted the Heat in the final minutes of a 96-94 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
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Nets fans have seen it too many times before.

A contentious series had the Nets ahead by eight points with under three minutes to play, but not even Joe Jesus could save them. Instead, Jesus Shuttlesworth scorched the Nets.

Allen’s timely three-pointer capped a rigorous comeback in a 96-94 Miami Heat win. The loss ends the Nets’ season in five games. The roller-coaster season ended at the bottom, though.

The Nets led, 91-83, and were shooting the ball at a high-clip. As has happened before in these playoffs, Brooklyn went ice cold in the final minutes. Allen put the Heat ahead, 93-91, after a wide-open Mario Chalmers passed up a shot and created space for Allen. Just like the 2012-13 NBA Finals, Allen showed “incredible focus” in burying the triple.

“When we met the first day for (Brooklyn) prep, the No. 1 key in this series was great mental stability,” Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You have to have that over the course of the game, course of the series.”

LeBron James finished the game with 29 points and nine rebounds while Dwyane Wade scored 28. Most of LeBron's points came in the second half with the game on the line. The Nets, however, picked the worst time to struggle on a night where they seemed destined to win.

“We thought this was a game we should have won,” Joe Johnson said.

Johnson played like the NBA’s best player, draining jumpers from all areas of the floor. The All-Star forward scored 34 points on 15-for-23 shooting and pulled down seven rebounds. On the last play of the game, though, he could not get off a shot. With 4.4 seconds left, Johnson received the ball and dribbled through the paint. The Heat swiped the ball out of his hands, and time trickled away with the ball lying at Johnson’s feet.

“Give the Heat credit,” Jason Kidd said. "They were attacking there in the fourth quarter. We were attacking. Both teams were attacking. They made plays, they made shots and we didn't."

The loss raises all sorts of questions about the Nets’ future. Paul Pierce was non-commital about returning to Brooklyn, Kevin Garnett skipped out on his media obligations, and the team’s franchise player in Deron Williams endured another rough season. Aside from Johnson, very much is still unclear about the Nets next season.

Brook Lopez is slated to return from yet another foot injury, which limited him to just 17 games in the 2013 portion of the season. Shaun Livingston, Pierce, Garnett, and center Andray Blatche are all unknowns at this point.

While questions about the roster remain, Pierce summed up the Nets’ emotions about next year.

“Emotions are too fresh right now,” Pierce said.

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