If you’re going to shoot at the king, you better not miss.
Reggie Evans took a shot at the entire Miami Heat roster, but singled out LeBron James as a player who was “no different than Joe Johnson and Andray Blatche”.
The game might as well have ended right there. James took it to heart, claimed by Udonis Haslem, and unleashed his fury in the form of 24 points (10-18 from the field and 3-4 from beyond the arc), nine rebounds and seven assists in 34 minutes in the Heat’s 105-85 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
In the Heat’s first trip to the Barclays Center, it felt like home once the “Lets go Heat” chants began to pour out of the crowd once Miami’s lead hit 22 to conclude the third quarter. Brooklyn was outscored 36-14 in a third quarter where the Heat forced eight turnovers. Joe Johnson gave the Nets a 55-53 lead with 9:18 remaining in the second quarter and it was all Miami from then on out.
The Heat reeled off a 32-8 run to finish off the third, finished off with a Ray Allen three-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer.
James was given ample support thanks to the collective shooting of his teammates. All-in-all the Heat converted 52 percent, but that pales in comparison to the 57 percent they shot from beyond the arc. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis converted two apiece, and the Heat in all had seven players make at least one three-pointer.
All seven of those players shot 50 percent or better on those threes. Somehow the Heat ended with a better three-point percentage (57.9 percent) than free throw percentage (57.1 percent on 8-of-14 shooting).
The offense was running smoothly for a majority of the night as the Heat constantly broke down the Nets defense with crisp passing, open jumpers being converted, and LeBron and Dwyane Wade facilitating and making plays happen in the lane. Wade finished with 21 points, three assists and two rebounds. It’s the fourth time in five games Wade has had at least 20 points and shot better than 50 percent.
Wade averages 16 points per game on 42 percent shooting in Heat losses. It turns out that having your second-best player have a good game is something you want to happen. When Dwyane Wade is playing like Dwyane Wade, the Heat are going to end up winning.
It also helps to have 16 points from Chris Bosh and 11 points, four rebounds, and four assists from Mario Chalmers.
The Heat built up a then game-high 12-point lead with 7:30 left in the second quarter and appeared ready to begin running away with their third blowout win over the Nets this season. However, the Nets began to get into the lane and started receiving easy points in the form of layups from either the point guard or the big man the point guard dished off to.
The Nets would finish off the second with a 20-8 run. It was primarily led by Brook Lopez, 21 points and seven rebounds, and Andray Blatche, 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting. Unfortunately for the Nets, no one outside of Lopez and Blatche had what could constitute as a good game. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson combined for 17 points on 8-of-24 shooting and nearly as many turnovers (10) as assists (11).
Reggie Evans played 20 minutes, missing his only field-goal attempt and both free throws and recording six rebounds and two steals.
This also happened:
Birdman made his presence felt for the short time he was on the floor, racking up three points and five rebounds, three off the offensive glass, and one block in nearly ten minutes. He was the first big man off the bench and took Joel Anthony’s (first DNP since November 12th) spot in the rotation. Mike Miller was also relegated to the end of the bench with his spot being taken by Rashard Lewis for the night.
Andersen provided high energy and provided the bare minimum as a body who can grab rebounds, help create second-chances and attempt to deter the shots of opponents. If the ‘Birdman’ is conditioned, he may just carve out a role in the rotation when the team is looking for size.
Miami’s road-trip continues in Indiana on Friday.