The Nets (1-1) defeated the Miami Heat (1-2) tonight by a score of 101-100.
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Paul Pierce was terrific, with 19 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds in a team-high 31 minutes of play. He was also a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line, including a couple of clutch makes in the final seconds that gave the Nets a 99-95 lead that appeared to ice the game.
Joe Johnson also had 19 points, including the game-clinching free throws after LeBron James hit a 3-pointer immediately after Pierce’s free throws. Johnson made two huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, his only 3-point attempts of the game, and was a team-best +6 on the night.
Brook Lopez got in foul trouble but managed 6 rebounds, all in the first half, and 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting in 20 minutes of play. Andray Blatche added 9 points in 25 minutes off the bench, and another 6 rebounds of his own.
Nine Nets players scored at least 6 points, with nobody scoring more than 19. They moved the ball extremely well and played like a true team, showing toughness, resolve and a will to win against a Heat team that never went away, but ultimately came up short.
Jon Presser, ContributorWhat a game. It took nearly three hours of real time, and it was electric from start to finish. The crowd was loud and the Nets responded with a glimpse of what they’re capable of. The Nets were terrific in the first and third quarters, combining to outscore the Heat 58 to 38 in those periods.
Through three quarters, the Nets held LeBron James to just 5-of-12 shooting for 13 points, with 4 turnovers and a -13 plus/minus. James ultimately finished with a game-high 26 points, but it just wasn’t enough for Miami as they dropped their second straight game to fall under .500 on the year.
The bench was outstanding, especially Alan Anderson, who has probably earned himself a permanent spot in the rotation with his performance tonight in 26 minutes of action. The box score won’t tell much of the story, but he hustled to grab 4 rebounds on the night and had a huge block on Dwyane Wade in the fourth quarter.
In his second and final game as acting head coach, Joe Prunty did an great job with the rotation, especially with Lopez getting in early foul trouble. Eight different Nets played over 20 minutes, with Jason Terry barely missing that mark as well. Every Nets player who got on the court scored, and only Terry and Anderson posted a negative plus/minus.
Deron Williams played 27 minutes, and looked like himself for the most part. He shot just 3-of-7 from the field, but more importantly, it looks like he’ll be able to put those ankle issues to bed and be ready for a normal workload going forward.
Bottom line, it was a night to remember for Nets fans. It felt like the first big step forward for a franchise patiently waiting to make the leap towards championship contention. Tonight, they demonstrated their potential. Now, the focus turns to keeping up this momentum and proving that they’re for real.
The Nets will be back in action Sunday night, when they face the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center. Tip is set for 6:00 PM.