By Jason Schott - @JESchott19
The Nets have made this a series, as they won Game 3 at Barclays Center, 104-90, over the Miami Heat, with a very strong second half. Miami now leads the series 2-1 and Game 4 is at Barclays Center on Monday night.
The key tonight was the Nets' three-point shooting, as they made 15 of 25 attempts from behind the arc. The 15 threes are a single game franchise playoff record, and it matches the most three-pointers in a single game by any team in the postseason. Joe Johnson had five threes and Mirza Teletovic had four.
Joe Johnson said of the Nets' three-point shooting, "It's a momentum boost for us. 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. That was the biggest key. I think that's what kind of started the guys making threes and us going on this run."
Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd was asked if this was the best the Nets have shot in the postseason, and he said, "I don't know. I'd have to go back and look. Sometimes the playoffs are about timely shots, not shooting the best as the stats say, we shoot 60 percent from the three, hopefully that gives you a chance to win and tonight it did."
Miami guard Dwyane Wade said of the Nets' threes affecting the game, "Well, yeah. When they are shooting threes like that you are now open to give them the lane because we are hedging out a little bit to the shooters and when a team is shooting threes like that they start getting anything they want. So, they played a very good game while making some adjustments and we have to do that for the next one."
Deron Williams said of finding guys on the three-point line, "I think we shot it a lot better today than last game. The energy was a lot better and we shot 50 percent, so that makes my job a lot easier."
The game started out even, as Miami led 30-29 after a first quarter marked by LeBron James scoring 16 points on 6-for-7 from the field, looking like this could have been a night he would score 50. The quarter ended on a high for the Nets as Shaun Livingston hit a three just inside half court at the buzzer.
In the second quarter, Miami had control of the game and took a 40-35 lead on a Dwyane Wade floater at the 6:25 mark. From then on, the game began to turn. Joe Johnson gave the Nets a 43-42 lead with a three-pointer with 3:56 left, and a Livingston hook shot made it 51-47 Nets with 1:15 left, but a Wade jumper cut the Nets' lead to two at halftime.
The third quarter belonged to the Nets. They outscored Miami 26-14, while shooting 11-for-18 from the field and 4-6 from behind the arc. Mirza Teletovic, who Miami cannot figure out how to defend, had three 3-pointers and 9 points to lead the Nets in the quarter. They held Miami to 5-for-19 overall and 1-for-8 on 3-pointers.
The Nets' biggest lead in the third came on a Deron Williams three-pointer that made it 77-61 with 1:13 left. James hit a couple of free throws with 6.7 seconds left to make it 77-63 Brooklyn heading into the fourth quarter.
Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra said of the difference in this third quarter compared to in the first two games, "Well, we have respect for our opponent, they're very capable, they have proven veteran playoff-tested guys. We said it coming into the game that if we played a similar game that we did in Game 2 we wouldn't be able to win it on the road. We just knocked down a heck of a lot of shots particularly in that fourth quarter and our defense really stepped up in the fourth quarter and it was not a consistent effort in Game 2. It was very similar tonight, the shots didn't go and you see the results change."
The key from the second quarter on was how they bottled up James. After the 16-point first quarter, he scored just 12 points on 2-for-8 from the field and finished with 28 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. On whether or not he felt like he should have shot the ball more tonight, James said, "Sometimes, it's just the way it's played, I felt great. Obviously, I mean I felt great in the first quarter. The ball just didn't find my hand a lot in the second quarter and that's what happened.
On how the game changed after the first half, James said, "Third quarter; third quarter was the deciding factor for us. I mean we scored 14 points and allowed them to get whatever they wanted and it changed the game around."
In the fourth quarter, the Nets took an 18-point lead, 85-67, on an Alan Anderson three-pointer. On Miami's ensuing possession, at the 9:34 mark, Anderson got tied up with Ray Allen, and shoved him to the floor. Allen jumped up and tried to get to Anderson, but his teammates intervened. Each were assigned double technicals, but it is a rare case to see the calm, cool, and collected Allen react like that.
Miami kept Allen, James, Wade, and Chris Bosh in for most of the fourth quarter. The closest the Heat got was 12 points, at 96-84, on an Allen finger roll lay-up with 2:23 left that forced Kidd to call a timeout. The Nets put the game away on a Johnson three with 558.4 seconds left that made it 103-87 and that forced Spoelstra to clear out his bench.
James said of being pulled with a minute left and what was going through his mind as he sat on the bench, "I think they played a better game than us tonight; obviously. We made some mistakes that we can clean up, kind of just replaying the game in my mind some, but also understanding that this is a series. I've been part of a lot of series and understand the game and that a series is never won in two games or three games and you move onto the next one and learn from the previous one how you can get better going into the following one."
The Nets had six players in double figures, led by Joe Johnson, who had 19 points on an impressive 7-for-10 from the field and 5-for-7 on three-pointers. Andray Blatche had 15 points on 5-for-10 shooting, Paul Pierce had 14 points on 5-10 overall and 2-3 on threes, Shaun Livingston and Mirza Teletovic had 12 each, and Kevin Garnett had 10 points on a superb 5-for-6 from the field.