By Jason Schott - @JESchott19
The Miami Heat won Game 5 over the Nets 96-94 to win the series four games to one and move on to the Eastern Conference Finals. The game ended with a with a 13-3 run by Miami, as Ray Allen got the game-winning three-pointer for Miami with 32 seconds remaining.
Miami was led by LeBron James with 29 points on 6-for-14 from the field, 2-5 on three-pointers, and 15-17 from the free throw line. Dwyane Wade also had a big night, with 28 points on 10-for-18 from the field and a perfect 8-8 on free throws. Chris Bosh had 16 points on 6-for-11 from the field. Ray Allen had 13 points off the bench. These four combined for 86 of Miami's 96 points.
When it ended, James jumped up on a table at courtside and raised his arms in a victory sign to celebrate. On that moment, James said, "It's exciting, you put so much hard work into it, especially in the playoffs, and to be in a closeout situation on our home floor and under the circumstances that we had to come back tonight, a lot of emotions. It's always been like that for us, it's never easy. It's never easy for us, and it always comes down to, can we get a stop at the end to win? And we had to do it once again, so a big time finish for our team."
On the mindset down the stretch, Wade said, "I think, for us, it was just about getting stops. We knew offensively that we needed to execute, but we knew if we wanted to win the game, we needed to get stops. They weren't making it easy on us. We put our closer on their best one-on-one player, and he hit some tough shots, but there was enough time left, so we just stuck with it.
The Nets came out like one would expect with the season on the line, and looked like they had a lead at the end of the first quarter when Joe Johnson hit a jumper with 2 seconds left. On Miami's ensuing possession, Ray Allen raced up the right side of the floor, and was stupidly fouled by Alan Anderson with 0.7 seconds remaining. Allen went to the line and hit a couple of free throws to make it 23-22 Miami at the end of the first.
The second quarter went back and forth until Miami led 42-41 on a James Jones three with 3:01 left. That would be the last lead Miami would have for awhile. The Nets closed the quarter on an 8-0 run, which featured a Deron Williams three and a Johnson driving layup to cap the run and give the Nets a 49-42 lead at halftime.
Miami came out firing to start the third quarter on a 7-0 run, which featured a Chris Bosh jumper and three-pointer, to tie the game at 49. Instead of folding, the Nets fought back with a 7-0 run of their own capped by a Johnson three. The Nets opened up a 10-point lead, at 61-51, on a Deron Williams three with 6:22 left in the third. They would keep it right around there, and a Johnson layup with a second left in the third gave the Nets a 75-66 lead entering the fourth.
The fourth started with another Miami surge, as Rashard Lewis and LeBron James hit back-to-back threes to cut Brooklyn's lead to 75-72. The Nets held tough once again, and a Paul Pierce three with 8:11 left made it 82-73 Brooklyn. They kept it up and led by eight, at 86-78, on a Johnson jumper with 6:16 left.
On Miami's ensuing possession, Pierce got charged for a foul on James at the 5:56 mark. Six seconds later, Pierce got called for a foul on James when he put his arms near James' shoulder as he was trying to set a screen. This was a questionable call that they probably would have let go if it were the other way around. Instead, it was Pierce's fifth, and he was going to the bench, not to return until the 2:39 mark. Mirza Teletovic was useless on both ends in Pierce's place, making his absence felt even more so.
Johnson kept the Nets' offense going in Pierce's absence, getting a three-point play and a jumper with 4:48 left that made it 91-83 Brooklyn. That was the last point the Nets would score until Johnson hit a three with 11 seconds left. That broke a 12-0 Miami run, which included Ray Allen hitting a three with 32 seconds left to give Miami a 93-91 lead, the first lead they had since it was 42-41 in the second quarter.
After the Allen three, Shaun Livingston got the ball and took it to the hoop himself (why pass to Johnson or Pierce?!) and missed a five-footer in the lane. Ray Allen was fouled on the inbounds and he hit two free throws to make it 95-91 Heat with 22 seconds left.
Johnson buried a three with 11 seconds left that made it 95-94 Miami. On the inbounds, the Nets fouled James with nine seconds left, and he missed one of his two free throws, leaving the Heat up just two at 96-94 and the Nets with a great chance to get it to overtime. Instead, the Nets had a hard time inbounding the ball and it got to Pierce in front of the Miami bench. James whacked Pierce across the arms, forcing the ball out of bounds. It was ruled off Miami, and it was Nets ball with 5 seconds left. On this inbounds, it was knocked out of bounds again. On the third try, it got to Johnson, but as he dribbed across the court to the lane past Allen and James, it slipped out of his hands, ending the season on a bitter note.
The Nets never got a shot off in the final ten seconds, and their play on the offensive end down the stretch was abysmal, just as it was in Games 2 and 4. The loss in Game 1 doesn't count as Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd essentially threw in the towel on that game by resting his starters. It's safe to assume Kidd is regretting that decision now.
Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd said of the loss, "Both teams were attacking, they made plays, they made shots and we didn't." On the strategy on the last offensive possessions, "Shaun had a good luck that we thought could have gone either way. Again, Shaun being aggressive, got the ball in the plate and couldn't complete the shot and they came down and shot free throws, so the big thing is we were attacking and we had the ball in the right guys' hands, but just could not complete the plays, and they did."
On the disappointment of losing to Miami, Kidd said, "There's always a winner and loser, and for us, we felt we had a great opportunity against the World Champs and we came up short. It's a process (a word he used a ton all year), we just put this together, so now it's time to keep building and keep the process of going forward and getting better."
On the season as a whole, Kidd said, "It was great...second round. No one wants to lose or the season to come to an end, but getting to the second round is something for us to build on."
Joe Johnson led the Nets with 34 points on 15-for-23 from the field and 3-for-6 on three-pointers, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and one steal. Paul Pierce had 19 points on 8-for-18 from the field (2-5 on 3-pt), 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. Deron Williams had 17 points on 7-for-16 from the field (3-7 on 3-pt), with just 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and a steal.