Before they can think about beating Miami in the playoffs, the Brooklyn Nets had to show they could do it in a game.
By the time they ended 4 1/2 years of futility, the only losing streak belonged to Miami — for the first time in 10 months.
Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson scored 19 points each, and the Nets ended a 13-game skid against the Heat and sent the NBA champions to consecutive losses for the first time since January with a 101-100 victory Friday night.
”It was good that we got a taste of this type of atmosphere this early in the season to try to see where we’re at,” Pierce said. ”Miami, whenever they come into town, they’re a measuring stick for everybody, so it was good for us to come out and get the win.”
Pierce and Johnson both hit two free throws in the final seconds as the Heat were trying to pull off a comeback. Instead, they fell to 1-2 and have dropped two in a row for the first time since Jan. 8 and 10.
The Heat got Dwyane Wade back after he missed Wednesday’s loss in Philadelphia, and he scored 21 points. LeBron James led Miami with 26 points as the Heat again fell far behind and couldn’t catch up.
”What you’ve done in the past doesn’t mean you can make it happen in the present, so we’ve just got to have a little more sense of urgency,” James said. ”It’s not doomsday right now. We’re good, but we understand what we need to fix and correct.”
The Nets ended a 13-game skid against the Heat with their first victory since March 20, 2009, before Miami’s Big Three got together and when the Nets were still playing in East Rutherford, N.J. — two homes ago.
Deron Williams, who came to the Nets two years later, said he wasn’t aware of the skid until seeing it on TV earlier Friday.
”You don’t want to have those types of losing streaks to any franchise,” he said, ”so it was definitely on our mind.”
Brooklyn, bigger and deeper, opened an 11-point lead after three quarters and kept the lead right around there until the final 2 minutes. Then Miami ran off 10 straight, cutting it to 96-94 with 18 seconds left after consecutive 3-pointers by Wade and Mario Chalmers.
James later nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to cut it to 99-98 with 4.7 seconds remaining before Johnson hit two free throws. Chris Bosh was fouled and after making the first appeared to try and miss the second, but it went in and the Heat couldn’t commit another foul in time.
The Nets bounced back from a season-opening loss in Cleveland by winning in their second and final game without first-year coach Jason Kidd, suspended two games by the NBA after pleading guilty in a drunken driving case.
James heated up late for his 21st straight 20-point game against the Nets. Only Michael Jordan had a longer streak, with 39 in a row from 1984-95.
Miami had bounced back with a win after every loss since following a Jan. 8 defeat to Indiana with another loss two nights later in Portland. But the Nets seized control in the third quarter behind 11 points from Pierce, holding the Heat without a basket for nearly 6 minutes and building just enough of a lead.
”This ain’t nothing new. We’ve dealt with this before. This story line continues,” Wade said. ”At the end of the day, we want to play better. We would love to play better, obviously the start, the first and the third, but we had a chance to win the game. We have to find a way to pull it out.”
The Heat swept three games against the Nets last season by an average of 21 points, the series appearing more lopsided than ever.
Getting Kevin Garnett and Pierce from Boston should change that, as well as whatever pleasantries might have existed between the teams. Garnett said James should worry about the Heat and stay out of Celtics business last month after James made some critical comments about their departure from Boston, and James refused to answer any questions about the Nets before the game Friday, saying Garnett told him not to talk about other teams.
Brooklyn got eight points in 12 minutes from Andrei Kirilenko after he missed the opener with back spasms. Fellow newcomer Alan Anderson also had eight points, while Andray Blatche led the reserves with nine.
NOTES: Miami’s longest winning streak against an opponent is 12 in a row over Charlotte. … The crowd included Magic Johnson, David Beckham, Allen Iverson and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.