Maybe Paul Pierce brought kryptonite with him from Boston. Jason Terry sure brought the energy.
During a stretch in the second quarter, Terry buried two three-pointers and then implored the crowd to make noise. He screamed, “Brooklyn” right along with the 17,732 fans in attendance.
Pierce and the Nets defense outlasted LeBron James, beating the Heat, 101-100. LeBron looked ordinary for long stretches and Miami played like the team searching for chemistry. LeBron missed seven of his first 12 shots and turned the ball over five times.
The Nets are a new team with new stars.
“I always call [Pierce] Picasso,” Garnett said. “He’s like a beautiful painting that I get to watch every night... He carried us for that stretch and when we needed a bucket he found a way to get it.”
Although the Heat offered several spurts throughout the game, the Nets owned this Friday night at the Barclays Center. In the process, the Nets gave the two-time defending champions something to think about as LeBron & Co. stumbled out of the gate. Miami has lost its last two games, enduring lengthy cold spells and just getting plain outplayed.
Perhaps the changing of the guard, if only for a year or two.
“We’re trying to set a new creed here, a new culture,” Garnett added. “I guess you start with getting bears and monkeys off your back.”
“I don’t know if we got their attention or not, but it was good for our psyche,” Pierce said.
LeBron sprinted over to the refs while Wade slammed the ball in frustration. The Nets officially got under the Heat’s skin. And the Heat wanted this game, too.
Interim head coach Joe Prunty served as more of a hockey coach than an NBA one. He consistently shifted lines, bringing seemingly another All-Star off the end of the bench and into a runaway juggernaut. An embarrassment of riches for the team with the highest payroll in the NBA.
“I think we have more depth than anyone in the league” Pierce said. “There’s just so many guys we can throw at you. We have a lot of guys who started on a lot of other teams but now are coming off the bench.”
The Nets acted like a team concerned more with a championship than personal statistics. The motto sounds cliche and similar to that of the 2010 Miami Heat, but midway through the third quarter, only Brook Lopez had scored in double-figures. Three players finished in double-digits, with Pierce and Joe Johnson pacing the Nets with 19 points apiece.
“Our strength is sharing the ball,” Garnett said. “You can’t play defense on everybody. We have a lot of first-option guys who have led teams, who have scored a bunch of points on different teams, a lot of talent. We know our strength is in numbers.”
Rarely has a team ever relied on so many players like the Nets will apparently try to do. Even during the Heat’s Finals runs, LeBron and Wade carried a strong supporting cast. Arguably five Nets can fill that role and possibly none of them will dominate.
“We’re a different team,” Johnson said. “We’ve got championship caliber guys and tonight it showed.”
Maybe PlayStation-style basketball can work. The Nets just need to hope, like in the video games, they can stay out of the infirmary.