Heat Check: Miami can’t solve Brooklyn yet again
MIAMI — The Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets battled closely into the final minute of the fourth quarter for the fourth time this season.
And for the fourth time, the Nets prevailed.
LeBron James’ dunk attempt right before the final buzzer was blocked by Brooklyn’s Mason Plumlee and the Nets escaped with an 88-87 victory at AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday night.
The Nets’ four wins against Miami this season included three by a point and the other in double overtime.
James had 29 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Heat (53-24), whose lead over idle Indiana (53-25) in the race for the Eastern Conference top seed was reduced to half of a game. The Pacers will visit Miami on Friday night.
Joe Johnson scored 19 points and Marcus Thornton had 16 off the bench for the Nets (43-34), who were without Kevin Garnett.
Miami led 6-4 until Johnson sank a 3-pointer 4:09 into the game and then didn’t go ahead again until Toney Douglas hit a 3-pointer with 5:57 to go in the third for a 55-53 edge.
Thornton hit a 3-pointer with 1:40 left in the fourth to give Brooklyn an 84-82 edge. After Chris Bosh missed a trey 1:24 to go, Johnson drove for a layup with a minute showing to give the Nets a four-point advantage.
Following a timeout, James drove for a basket and was fouled. His three-point play pulled Miami within 86-85 with 55 seconds on the clock.
After the teams exchanged baskets, Rashard Lewis passed to James, who was blocked by Plumlee right before the buzzer.
Guard Dwyane Wade (hamstring) and center Greg Oden (back) each missed his seventh straight game.
"(Dwyane) had two really good days. He was very close to playing," coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game. "(Greg) is close. He had a really good day (Tuesday)."
Veteran forward Udonis Haslem was out with a stomach virus.
Late in the first quarter, Alonzo Mourning was introduced and received a standing ovation a day after he former Heat center was named among those to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame in August.
THE TURNING POINT
Marcus Thornton’s 3-pointer with 1:40 left gave Brooklyn an 84-82 edge. Then after Bosh missed a trey, Johnson drove for a layup with a minute showing to give the Nets a five-point advantage.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Thornton hit 6 of 8 shots overall, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Nets had seven blocks.
The Heat will play the Grizzlies at Memphis on Wednesday at 8 p.m.