The Nets found a way Saturday night in the Barclays Center.
It was not always pretty early, but the Nets caught fire in the third quarter and beat the Miami Heat, 104-90. Joe Johnson and Mirza Teletovic shot the lights out, combining for 31 points on 11-for-17 shooting.
The Nets shot 61.1 percent from the field in the third quarter and 52.8 percent for the game. After the Nets had opened the game 12-for-28, they closed the game on a 26-for-44 barrage. The Nets also pounded the Heat on the glass, out-rebounding them, 43-27.
“We needed a win,” point guard Deron Williams said. “I do not think the percentages of teams going down 3-0 are very good, so it was a much needed win and changes the series.”
The Nets delivered the Heat its first loss of the postseason after grabbing a 4-0 series sweep during the regular season. LeBron James scored 16 points in the first half on 6-for-7 shooting, but he managed just two field goals the rest of the game.
“To sum it up, they outplayed us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Particularly in that second half.”
The Heat, who scored 52 points in the paint during a Game 1 win, have not been able to establish anything inside in the past two games. Their shooting has not been good enough to make up the difference.
‘We got caught up in missing a lot of shots and our spirit got taken away from us offensively and that happens when you lack movement,” Heat forward Shanie Battier said. “A lot of our movements were east to west instead of north to south and part of that is because the Nets flatten you out, and we have to combat that.”
With the win, the Nets will host another must-win game Monday night at the Barclays Center. They trail the Heat, 2-1, but the defending champs never lost consecutive games during last year’s Finals run. They responded to every loss with a win.
While the Nets are slow and steady, they can shoot the ball with any team in the league. If they can defend the paint, there is no reason why they cannot reestablish themselves in the series.
“It’s a momentum boost for us,” said Joe Johnson, who finished with 19 points. “Obviously, the basket seems a little bigger. I thought the thing that was great about it was the ball movement, us getting into the teeth of the defense and kicking out for wide open shots.”
They clearly have Miami beat on the bench, despite the Heat boasting the world’s best player. The Nets’ bench accounted for 40 points, including 15 from center Andray Blatche. After another effective performance for Blatche, he may have permanently leapfrogged rookie Mason Plumlee in the rotation.
“We have respect for our opponent,” Spoelstra added. “They’re very capable; they have proven, playoff-tested, veteran guys. We said coming in that if we played a similar game that we did in Game 2, we wouldn’t be able to win on the road.”