Terrance Williams sent LeBron James into the stands – and into overdrive.
Just like that, a close game turned into a Miami Heat runaway.
Dwyane Wade had 29 points and 10 rebounds, James scored 14 of his 23 points in the third quarter — seven in the last 32 seconds after getting flagrantly fouled by Williams — and the Heat rolled past New Jersey 101-89 on Saturday night for their second easy win over the Nets in a week.
A 25-10 run over the final 7 minutes of the third allowed the Heat to finally take control, sending the Nets to their fourth straight loss.
”We’re starting to get more of a comfort zone,” Wade said.
Wade and James had a few highlight-reel moments. James went behind-the-back, one of his nine assists, to set Wade up for a dunk late in the first half; Wade returned the favor on a lob — they’d been trying to get one of those all season — for a spectacular alley-oop on a 2-on-1 runout in the third quarter, prompting the two to meet in a twisting, side-bumping airborne celebration.
Then Williams really got James flying.
James was coming down the right side of the court in transition when Williams simply drove a shoulder, hockey-style, into the side of the NBA’s two-time reigning MVP. James toppled over the row of courtside photographers and into some of the most expensive seats in the house for an impromptu meet-and-greet with fans.
”I’ve been hit harder than that,” James said. ”I played football in high school.”
Williams was called for a flagrant-one foul, James made one of the two ensuing free throws, then a 3-pointer on the extended possession. The next time down, James struck from 3-point range again to close the third quarter and give Miami an 87-68 lead and essentially put away the game.
”When people are going to the hole and throwing behind the back and dunking and stuff like that, you’ve got to do something about it,” Williams said.
Williams said he wasn’t trying to hurt James, but rather send a message.
”It didn’t send much of a message,” James said, ”because we went on an 8-0 run after that.”
Chris Bosh scored a season-high 21 points for Miami, which started a six-game homestand. The Heat have held all seven opponents under 100 points, and did so again Saturday while shooting 49 percent.
”Guys played very hard tonight,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”Without even looking at the scoreboard, you could just tell that we were making an impact on the game with our energy, our disposition, really active, particularly on the defensive end and it allowed us to get out in the open court. And guys were really playing with athleticism and speed.”
Anthony Morrow scored 25 for the Nets, who got 12 from Brook Lopez — who made three of his first four shots in the game’s opening 2:11, and went 2 for 12 the rest of the way. And Heat fans didn’t forgive Williams, either: He was booed every time he touched the ball the remainder of the evening.
For the seventh game of their season, the Heat were almost implored to take a Game 7 approach.
Spoelstra — who wasn’t thrilled with the ”energy and effort,” two of his favorite buzzwords, in the early going of Miami’s loss at New Orleans on Friday night — wrote the word ”desperate” six times on the massive whiteboard that covers a wall of the home locker room.
Miami didn’t exactly respond with that mantra in mind.
New Jersey ran out to a 12-5 lead and led for much of the game’s first 18 minutes, before a three-point play by Wade put the Heat ahead 40-39 with 5:47 left until halftime. Morrow’s jumper early in the third quarter tied the game at 55, but Carlos Arroyo scored on the next Heat possession and Miami wouldn’t trail again.
”We’ve got to play better defense, take better care of the basketball and have better third quarters,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said.
In other words, start clicking — the way the Heat did after halftime.
With two Nets players in front of him in transition, Wade made a nifty pass to James for a swooping left-handed layup and the foul, the three-point play putting Miami up 62-55. And the other ”Big Three” guy got into the act on the next possession, with James finding Bosh for a dunk that was immediately followed by a long scream under the basket.
”Controlled rage,” Bosh said.
Notes: Miami Hurricanes coach Frank Haith was at the game, seated next to Heat president Pat Riley. … It was Wade’s 96th double-double, giving him sole possession of fourth place in Heat history. He had been tied with Tim Hardaway. … Morrow was 4-for-7 from 3-point range, and is 15 made 3’s shy of being eligible to pass Steve Kerr for No. 1 on the league’s all-time accuracy list from beyond the arc. … It was the 900th career game for Heat swingman Jerry Stackhouse.