The win made Miami 2-0 against New Jersey already this season, and it evoked comparisons to the Heat's final three wins over the Nets in last spring's Eastern Conference semifinals.
In those games, Miami's role players made key plays in the fourth quarter to hold off the Nets, and they did the same thing Friday night. The big shots were 3-pointers by Gary Payton and Antoine Walker in the final 3:30, with Walker's giving Miami a 101-94 lead with 2:16 left.
The spurt capped a game in which the Heat started sluggishly, roared back from a 17-point second-quarter deficit, fell behind early in the fourth quarter and then held off the Nets down the stretch.
Afterward, Miami coach Pat Riley sounded as if he was describing a middle-tier NBA team instead of the defending champions.
"There is something very unique about this team," he said. "They don't play some nights with the incredible sense of urgency that I am trying to demand, and that would drive some coaches crazy. But once they get into it and realize you can't give these guys open shots, things can change."
The game also served to highlight the emergence of Haslem as an offensive contributor on a team that is already well-stocked with players who can score. The fourth-year pro was 10-for-14 from the field and took nearly half as many shots as he'd taken in the last three games combined. His three-point play with 3:48 left gave the Heat the lead for good.
"My main focus is defending and rebounding and other things, but we've got a couple of plays for me," Haslem said. "It's up to (Riley) to make the calls."
Riley sounded as if that might happen more frequently.
"He's developed," Riley said. "He'll make the medium-range jump shot, he's got confidence and the guys have confidence in him. He's not the kind of guy teams are going to say, 'Let's not guard him."'
Vince Carter led New Jersey with 33 points, but the Nets may have lost forward Richard Jefferson for the foreseeable future after he sprained his ankle in the third quarter when he landed on Shaquille O'Neal's foot. X-rays on the ankle were negative, but the Nets said Jefferson will be out indefinitely.
O'Neal, playing for the first time since missing two games with a bruised left knee, fouled out with 2:35 left in the game with 13 points and six rebounds.
"It felt all right, although I missed a couple of chippies, but the guys played well," he said.
New Jersey led 85-79 when Clifford Robinson clanged in a baseline jumper with 8:05 left in the game. Walker and Wade then combined for nine points to help Miami tie the game at 88 before Haslem scored and was fouled by Robinson and eventually made it 91-88.
Just like in the playoffs, the Nets scratched and clawed but could get no closer than a point. Wade displayed all facets of his game with 10 assists, five rebounds and three steals.
"He's one of the top three players in the league," said Jason Kidd, who just missed his 77th career triple-double with 12 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. "When he gets going, he's very unselfish. You see that when Haslem had 28 points. They become a very dangerous team when he finds the open guy."
- Riley said Heat G Jason Williams resumed practicing Thursday. Williams underwent surgery July 21 to repair a partial tear of his right patella tendon. He was bothered by tendinitis most of last season but still averaged 12.3 points and 4.9 assists.
- Carter passed the 13,000-point mark for his career with a jump shot midway through the third quarter.
- Former New York Giant linebacker Harry Carson, recently inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, watched from the front row on one baseline.