EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After a rookie season spent mostly on the bench, Chris Douglas-Roberts is taking full advantage of the shoulder injury that sidelined New Jersey Nets All-Star guard Devin Harris indefinitely.
Douglas-Roberts capped a career-high 18-point performance with a game-clinching 3-pointer and the Nets spoiled the return of NBA leading scorer Dwyane Wade to the Miami lineup after a one-game absence with a 96-88 victory over the Heat on Friday.
"He is just seizing the moment," Vince Carter (17 points, nine rebounds and eight assists) said of Douglas-Roberts. "Now he is locked in. One thing I told him and we didn't talk much. All I said was: 'Here is your opportunity, take advantage and make the best of it."'
Douglas-Roberts, who got Memphis within seconds of a national title last season, certainly taken advantage since Harris went down with sprained left shoulder last Sunday.
Douglas-Roberts had a career-best 14 points in a win over the Knicks on Wednesday and he topped that against Wade and company. He had nine points in the second quarter in helping New Jersey take a 12-point halftime lead, and he added four points in a 9-0 fourth-quarter spurt that snapped a tie and gave the Nets an 82-73 lead.
His first NBA 3-pointer with 1:10 to go iced the game and gave New Jersey its first win over Miami in four games this season.
While he has had up and downs appearing in only 30 games this season, Douglas-Roberts never stopped working.
"If your moment comes and you are not ready, you don't have anything to say about why you aren't playing," Douglas-Roberts said. "Your minutes are very valuable and when you do get an opportunity to play you must produce, whether it's offensively or defensively."
The win pulled New Jersey (30-39) to within two games of idle Chicago (32-37) in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 13 games left in the regular season.
"It's easy to say we're a playoff team," Carter said. "It's another thing going out there and proving it. I just set the bar for the team and guys are catching on and following and believing it themselves."
Jarvis Hayes also scored 18 points, hitting two late jumpers as New Jersey won its second straight game. Brook Lopez added 15 points, including two go-ahead free throws with 7:25 to go after Miami rallied from a 14-point deficit to tie the game.
Wade had 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists in returning from a hip flexor injury that caused him to sit out Wednesday night's loss in Boston. Michael Beasley added 17 points and Jermaine O'Neal had 15 as the Heat matched their season high with a three-game losing streak.
Wade, who said he felt OK, noted that Heat (36-32) have to get things turned around or else they may soon themselves battling for a playoff berth.
"We understand the position that we are in," he said. "Guys have to start playing with a little more urgency."
Wade drew the biggest cheer of the game with 1:57 left in the third quarter when he one-handed an 85-footer off the backboard into the basket.
Unfortunately for the Heat, the right-handed football-type heave came after O'Neal was whistled for a questionable foul knocking the ball away from Lopez.
However, the shot seemed to wake up the Heat after nearly three dismal quarters and they pulled within four heading into the final quarter.
Miami tied the game twice in the fourth quarter, the final time on a layup by Daequan Cook with 7:49 to go.
Lopez then hit his two free throws, and Douglas-Roberts, who scored a 14 earlier this week against the Knicks, hit two free throws and followed a fastbreak miss with a layup for a 79-73 lead. A 3-pointer by Keyon Dooling capped the 9-0 run and gave New Jersey an 82-73 lead.
Miami made one final run and drew within 87-84 on two free throws by Udonis Haslem with 2:34 to play.
Hayes then took a behind-the-back pass from Carter and hit a baseline jumper.
After Wade drove the lane for a layup, Hayes hit another jumper and Douglas-Roberts followed with his 3 to give the Nets a 94-86 lead.
Carter hit two free throws and a 3 to help New Jersey build a 14-point lead early in the third quarter. The margin was still 10 after Lopez converted the two free throws following the foul against O'Neal, but Miami finished the third quarter with an 8-2 spurt that Wade capped with a steal and dunk.
|Back from a hip flexor injury, Dwyane Wade has 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists. (Getty Images)|
|New Jersey (30-39) «||21||30||16||29||96|
|MIA:D. Wade 27 Pts
MIA:D. Wade 8 Reb
MIA:D. Wade 6 Ast
|NJ:J. Hayes 18 Pts
NJ:V. Carter 9 Reb
NJ:V. Carter 8 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|D. Wade, SG||39||9-21||9-14||8||6||2||27|
|M. Chalmers, PG||33||4-9||0-0||3||5||6||10|
|J. O'Neal, PF||31||6-12||3-4||2||4||5||15|
|U. Haslem, PF||26||1-6||3-4||8||0||3||5|
|J. Moon, SG||11||0-3||0-0||1||0||1||0|
|M. Beasley, PF||26||8-11||1-2||4||2||1||17|
|D. Cook, SG||18||2-7||0-0||4||0||0||5|
|L. Head, PG||17||1-6||0-0||3||4||3||2|
|Y. Diawara, SG||16||1-3||0-0||3||1||1||3|
|J. Magloire, C||14||2-3||0-0||4||1||1||4|
|J. Jones, SF||9||0-2||0-0||1||1||1||0|
|M. Blount, C||Did Not Play|
|D. Wright, SF||Did Not Play|
|C. Quinn, PG||Did Not Play|
|J. Anthony, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|V. Carter, SG||38||5-18||5-6||9||8||2||17|
|K. Dooling, PG||38||4-9||0-0||4||8||3||10|
|T. Hassell, SF||32||3-5||1-2||5||1||2||7|
|B. Lopez, C||32||4-13||7-8||7||0||3||15|
|Y. Jianlian, SF||20||2-7||1-2||6||0||3||6|
|J. Hayes, SF||27||8-12||0-0||5||2||1||18|
|C. Douglas-Roberts, SG||27||5-6||7-7||4||2||0||18|
|J. Boone, PF||16||1-1||0-2||5||1||2||2|
|B. Simmons, SF||11||1-3||0-0||0||1||3||3|
|E. Najera, PF||Did Not Play|
|D. Harris, SG||Did Not Play|
|M. Ager, SG||Did Not Play|
|R. Anderson, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|