Too much LeBron as Heat roll over Nets
At Tuesday's practice, Brooklyn Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo told the media that James was "unguardable," but even P.J. couldn't have anticipated that the entire Heat team would live up to that remark, shooting 52 percent from the field and 58 percent from beyond the arc.
James led the way for Miami, recording a line of 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists to notch his 20th straight 20-plus point performance against the Nets, while Dwyane Wade added 21 and Chris Bosh had 16.
For Brooklyn, newly-minted All-Star Brook Lopez had 21 points and seven boards, while Joe Johnson overcame a tough 4-for-15 shooting night to finish with 16 and a season-high-tying six assists. Deron Williams, who was a game-time decision because of flu-like symptoms, played 34 minutes and scored nine points, but also had six turnovers against just five assists, and coach Carlesimo was retrospective about the performance and his handling of the point guard.
"When (Williams) doesn't play the way we're used to seeing him play…he's not an excuse guy, but I second-guessed it a little," Carlesimo said. "Maybe I stretched his minutes out, maybe should have given him shorter spurts, but he wanted to play, and at times he played very well."
The loss snaps the Nets' eight-game home winning streak, gives Miami their 13th straight win against the ballers from Brooklyn, and makes reigning NBA MVP James – who Carlesimo said after the game "will always get his no matter how hard you make him work – a winner in 17 straight against the Nets.
"We weren't even close to being competitive for the last 18 minutes (of the second half), and when the bubble burst, it burst quickly," Carlesimo said. "We had 20-some good minutes tonight, and you need 40-some to beat these guys. We played some exceptional ones, but we also threw in some horrendous ones, and Miami aside, there were very few teams we could've beaten the way we played (in the final 18 minutes)."
The Nets started slow and trailed by 10 after the first, but erased the deficit and were tied 49-49 at the half. Brooklyn then led 55-53 with 9:18 to go, but as it has been all season, the remainder of the third quarter is where it fell apart; Miami finished the frame on a 32-8 run, outscoring the Nets 36-14 overall, and turned a roller-coaster of a game into a blowout.
"I thought our guys played an excellent first half and really hung in, but we did a lot of things in the third that we did to dig ourselves a hole in the first quarter – we turned the ball over early, and did a bad job rebounding," Carlesimo said. "In the first four or five minutes (of the third) we were alright, but we shot ourselves in the foot offensively, and had some looks that we couldn't finish. When the bubble burst, we went bad on both ends; we felt a little sorry for ourselves because things weren't going well, and we stopped defending and started walking up the floor."
Many of the Nets players quickly dressed and left the locker room immediately after the game, including Reggie Evans – who had strong words before the game about LeBron James and the Heat's 2012 NBA Championship – leaving Lopez and Williams to sum up the disappointment.
Brooklyn Game: Game Grades
"I think we are just disappointed in ourselves; we really let this one get away," Lopez said. "We felt we were playing great ball up until about midway through the third quarter, but they got going and we didn't really respond, and that was it."
"This is a bad loss; we hoped to come out and put a better effort out against these guys, and we didn't do that today," added Williams, whose gutty performance was one coach Carlesimo reflected on as well.
With the loss, there is still some good news for the Nets; they finish the month of January with an 11-4 record, tying for the best January mark in franchise history, and are now 13-5 under Carlesimo. They have very little time to sulk and/or celebrate, however, as February's slate begins right away with a Friday night matchup against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES