'Balanced' Brooklyn upset Miami
THE Brooklyn Nets handed the Miami Heat their first defeat of the National Basketball Association play-offs on Saturday, beating the two-time defending NBA champions 104-90.
The Nets trimmed their deficit in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference second-round series to 2-1, and have a chance to pull even when they host Game 4 today.
"Every game in this series is going to be different," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "Tonight, guys were all on the same page, executing the game plan."
Joe Johnson led a balanced Brooklyn attack with 19 points, one of six Nets players to score in double figures.
"That means we have a great collective team effort, and you can't game plan for that," Johnson said. "When our bench is playing great, we're playing great as a team."
It was the Nets' defence that keyed a dominant third quarter, in which Brooklyn held the Heat to five-of-19 shooting from the floor and outscored the champions 26-14.
That turned Brooklyn's two-point, half-time lead into a commanding 77-63 advantage.
Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James scored 28 points for the Heat, but only 12 after the first period. Dwyane Wade finished with 20 points for Miami.
Chris Bosh added 12 points for Miami, but their reserves contributed just 25 in defeat.
Brooklyn, meanwhile, got a solid effort from their reserves in the win over a Heat team that had won eight straight post-season games.
That streak included victories in the final two games of last year's NBA Finals, when they defeated San Antonio for the title, a four-game sweep of Charlotte in the first round and back-to-back home wins against the Nets to open this Eastern Conference semi-final set.
Andray Blatche came off the bench and scored 15 points with 10 rebounds in just under 20 minutes. Mirza Teletovic added 12 points and made a trio of three-pointers in the third quarter.
Johnson's effort included five of seven from three-point range, as the Nets drained 15 of their 25 attempts from beyond the arc.
"They got in a great rhythm, and even their inside-the-three shots were open," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "To sum it up, they outplayed us."
Leading 51-49 at half-time, the Nets clamped down defensively in the third and began to pull away. Teletovic drained a three-pointer that sparked a 9-0 scoring run in which Miami missed five straight attempts from the field.
James made just one of five from the floor in the third, and the Heat made just one of eight three-point attempts.