Heat 94, Nets 86, 2OT
It was time, Mario Chalmers said.
Time to send Miami to Boston for the opening weekend of the
Time to put New Jersey’s miserable season to a predictable end
Chalmers gave Miami the lead for good early in the second
overtime, then assisted on each of his team’s final three field
goals as the Heat wrapped up the No. 5 seed in the Eastern
Conference by beating the Nets 94-86 Wednesday night – sending New
Jersey to its 70th and final loss of the season.
“We had a lot of these nights,” Nets guard Devin Harris
Michael Beasley had 25 points and 13 rebounds before fouling
out, Chalmers finished with 15 points and Dorell Wright and James
Jones each scored 11 for Miami, which wasted a 13-point lead in the
Miami (47-35), the No. 5 seed for the second straight season,
heads to Boston on Saturday.
“You might say we were just trying to get ready for the next
season,” Chalmers said. “We’ve got a big competition coming up
Yi Jianlian scored 23 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for New
Jersey (12-70), which erased a 12-point deficit in the final 6:48
of regulation. Courtney Lee scored 17, Brook Lopez had 12 and
Harris 10 for New Jersey.
“Looking forward to getting back to my day job and preparing
for the draft. I’m excited about that,” said Kiki Vandeweghe, the
Nets general manager-turned-interim coach. “This was a good group
to coach. We didn’t win a lot, but we came to play. Second half of
the season, they really came to play.”
The Heat chose to rest Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem with an
array of minor injuries, and Jermaine O’Neal sat while continuing
to recover from an ankle problem. None of the issues are expected
to affect their availability for Game 1 of the playoffs, and O’Neal
insisted he would be ready for practice by Friday.
“Now we can prepare for the playoffs, something that we’re all
excited about,” Wade said.
Sparked by a long 3-pointer from former Heat guard Chris Quinn,
the Nets went on a 19-7 run to close regulation and the teams went
into overtime tied at 78.
By then, the scenarios were simple.
A Miami win, the Heat would get Boston in the first round and
the Nets would lose No. 70.
A Miami loss, and the Heat would see Atlanta for the second
straight year in the opening round.
Bring on Boston.
Miami’s 47 wins rank as the seventh-best total in franchise
history, and the most since the 2005-06 team won 52 on its way to
claiming the NBA championship.
It’s the sixth time in Wade’s seven seasons that the Heat made
the playoffs, something plenty of so-called experts said wouldn’t
happen back when the year began. Proving those critics wrong became
a bit of a rallying cry for Miami this season, especially over the
final seven weeks, when the Heat started playing their best
basketball and climbed out from under the .500 mark.
“The guys in that locker room, they have a lot of pride and
took that personal,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It could
have gone the other way. In January, I think everyone expected us
to break. … This group was unique. We found strength.”
So now, it’s off to Boston – and there will be doubters once
The Heat are 1-11 in their last 12 games against the Celtics,
the one win coming in a game where neither Rajon Rondo nor Kevin
Garnett played and Miami still had to rally in the second half.
Miami went 0-3 against Boston this season, losing by seven, six
and five points. It’s the first time the Heat and Celtics will meet
in the playoffs.
“All three games were competitive,” Spoelstra said. “But it’s
a tough place to play and they are champions, so you have to
respect what they have done.”
Miami finished the season with wins in 18 of its last 22 games;
the Celts lost seven of their final 10 to end the regular
For the Nets, there was just relief that the worst season in
franchise history is over.
“It was not a good year for us,” forward Chris Douglas-Roberts
said, “not at all.”
The first sign of trouble, fittingly, came for New Jersey on
opening night, when the Nets blew a 19-point lead, got outscored
31-15 in the fourth quarter and lost to Minnesota. That was the
first of 18 straight defeats to begin the year, costing coach
Lawrence Frank his job, and the Nets seemed capable of bumping the
1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers out of the record books by losing more
than 73 games.
The only other teams in NBA history to lose 70 games, besides
Philadelphia’s 9-73 club, are Dallas (11-71, 1992-93), Denver
(11-71, 1997-98) and the Los Angeles Clippers (12-70, 1986-87).
Much like the Heat, the Nets expect to have a much different
look next season.
Miami and New Jersey are two of the teams with plenty of
salary-cap room to utilize during the expected free agent bonanza
this summer, and the Nets have made no secret that they are hoping
for immediate upgrades.
They had plenty of chances Wednesday night.
In the end, a season marked by losses ended – naturally – with
“It was an abysmal season,” Harris said. “It was a
NOTES: Heat F Quentin Richardson will be in the playoffs for
just the second time in his 10 seasons. He went to the Western
Conference finals with Phoenix in 2005. … New Miami Dolphins wide
receiver Brandon Marshall was at the game, sporting a Florida
Marlins cap. … Quinn and Keyon Dooling, both former Heat players,
spent plenty of time greeting friends before the game.