(Photo Credit: Nathaniel Butler)
The Miami HEAT dropped their second straight game, falling 104-95 to the Brooklyn Nets Friday night at the Barclays Center. The HEAT battled back from deficits in the fourth quarter and first overtime, but couldn't pull the game out in the second overtime period.
Impact Performance of the Night: Joe Johnson was dynamite in the early going, pouring in 22 points in the first quarter on 9-of-10 shooting. He cooled off throughout the course of the game, but he showed up again in the overtime periods, helping Brooklyn take down the HEAT. Johnson finished with 32 points on 14-of-25 shooting and provided sustenance for a Brooklyn offense that has struggled for stretches this season.
The Deciding Run: The HEAT battled back in the fourth quarter and first overtime, overcoming deficits to fight another five minutes. In the second overtime, without LeBron James who had fouled out earlier, and Dwyane Wade, who rested, the HEAT struggled to create good looks. As the HEAT offense was sputtering out of the gate, the Nets offense came out scorching. Shaun Livingston and Joe Johnson hit a pair of two-point jumpers to give the Nets a quick four-point lead. Paul Pierce hit a three-pointer on the next possession and that was just about it for the HEAT. The Nets would extend the run to 11-0 before Ray Allen scored in the closing seconds.
Play of the Game: All game long the HEAT fought off fatigue from a tough week of games and the second night of a back-to-back. They fell behind four points in the first overtime but were able to overcome it and force a second overtime period. In that second overtime, the Nets once again jumped out to a four-point lead, but this time the HEAT couldn’t bounce back. After a blocked layup attempt the Nets went the other way and Paul Pierce knocked in a huge three-pointer, giving the Nets a seven point lead.
Efficiency Rating: Offensive Efficiency: 100.1; Defensive Efficiency: 108.1
Trend to Watch: While HEAT losses were not the desired outcome, some good did come from this weekend’s games in New York. Norris Cole, in a starting role, played well for the HEAT. He didn’t back down from the challenges thrown his way and responded in a big way with the HEAT very shorthanded against the Nets. Tonight he scored 18 points and dished out seven assists, but two plays really stand out. In the first half Cole hit a layup high off the glass over a Nets defender while driving from the left side of the floor. The little scoop/floater shot is a new addition to Cole’s game and one that should help him immensely down the road. The other play was a fastbreak play that resulted in a relatively simple layup for Cole. He charged down the floor with just Joe Johnson to beat. In the past, Cole would often take off from far away, trying to beat the defender in the air to the basket. The results of most of those were simple blocks. Tonight, Cole ran into Johnson’s body, absorbing the contact, using his body as a shield. That is not a play that Cole has made with regularity in the past. His awareness and control around the rim has been a big reason for his improved play. Tonight, he showed off these two moves, and a little hesitation dribble, that will make his life around the rim much easier.
The Takeaway: Tonight presented a difficult challenge for the HEAT. Not only were they on the second night of a back-to-back, but they were playing their fifth game in seven days. All without three starters, two of which are primary creators of offense in Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers. Considering the circumstances, the HEAT acquitted themselves pretty well. The offense and defense both experienced lulls in the middle of the game, but the HEAT put up a really strong fourth quarter performance to force overtime. The defense held the Nets to just 13 points in the frame, which was a return to the late game defense we’ve seen the last few weeks. Alas, a HEAT win wasn’t in the cards. LeBron James fouled out in the first overtime—his first regular season foul out since 2008—and the HEAT weren’t able to generate offense in the second overtime to hang with Brooklyn. The HEAT may have just run out of gas after a long week of basketball.
Notes: LeBron James led the HEAT with 36 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Norris Cole scored 18 points and tallied seven assists. Chris Bosh added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Greg Oden and Shane Battier were inactive.