For 46 minutes Monday night, the New Jersey Nets did everything right against the mighty Miami Heat. They led from the opening tip. They shot well from the perimeter and limited their turnovers. Even without All-Star point guard Deron Williams, the Nets led by as many as 13 points in the third period and held a 96-90 lead with two minutes remaining.
However, that's when the Nets remembered who they were and started playing like the Nets. And that's when LeBron James simply decided that it was time to just totally take over the game.
James scored his team's last 17 points, including three straight driving baskets in the final minute, en route to a 37-point outburst and a 101-98 come-from-behind win.
James' power move with the left hand with 43 seconds to play gave the Heat its first lead of the game, 97-96. James then made another clutch jumper in the lane with 17 seconds left to push the lead to 99-96 and capped his fourth quarter with two free throws in the closing seconds.
The Nets tried every single player, even two and three at one point, on the floor to try to stop James, but to no avail. With Dwyane Wade out with a sprained ankle, James took control -- and the Nets had no answer whatsoever.
James' last-period heroics spoiled a heroic effort by the Nets (22-40), who played without All-Star guard Deron Williams.
Williams apparently injured his calf muscle again and was a game-time scratch. It unknown if Williams could recover in time to face the Knicks on Wednesday night at the Prudential Center, in their next-to-last game ever in New Jersey.
The Nets once again lost at home, dropping their mark in Newark to 9-22, while they have a 13-18 record on the road.
This would have been their finest victory of the season, even without Wade in the Miami lineup. The Nets, who have floundered all season in the first quarter, managed to score a season-best 34 points in the first quarter Monday night, led by Kris Humphries, who played like a man possessed.
"Against this Miami Heat team, if you don't get off to a good start, they might be too far ahead before you can get your bench in there," Nets coach Avery Johnson said. "We certainly got off to a good start."
The Nets had a new starting lineup, with rookie Jordan Williams at center and Gerald Green at small forward. Both had been key bench players in recent weeks.
Humphries finished with 29 points, two shy of his career high, on a blistering 12-of-16 from the floor. Humphries hit a baseline fall-away jumper over Miami's Chris Bosh that gave the Nets the 96-90 lead with two minutes left, a lead that seemed solid at the time, until James took over the entire game.
The Nets also received a solid effort from rookie MarShon Brooks, who scored 24.
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