Joe Johnson scores 32 as Nets top Heat in 2 OTs
Both teams sported jerseys with nicknames, a fresh look that added a little extra flavor to their matchup -- as if it needed any more juice in a nationally televised game involving the two-time defending champions.
Joe Johnson went with a basic "JJ" stitched on the back of his. For a while, though, he played more like the guy dubbed "Joe Jesus" by Kevin Garnett.
Johnson scored 22 points in the first quarter, putting the Nets in prime position to take down the Heat for the second time this season. They led by 14 in the third quarter and 12 in the fourth before the Heat rallied to force overtime.
It took two extra sessions, but the Nets found a way to beat the Heat -- again. They scored the first 11 points of the second overtime, draining five of their first six shots, and outlasted Miami, 104-95, at Barclays Center to collect their fifth straight victory and second win over the Heat in two tries this season.
"It was huge," said Johnson (32 points). "It was a gutsy win as well, going into two overtimes. We were very resilient tonight. I thought guys fought throughout the whole game. We had our ups, we had our downs. But we hung in there and were able to pull it out."
Shaun Livingston played a career-high 51:13, finishing with 19 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for the Nets (15-21). He also drew a charging foul on LeBron James with 36 seconds left in the first overtime that ended James' night. It was only the fourth time in James' career that he fouled out. But a jumper by the Heat's Norris Coles with 3.3 seconds left forced a second OT period.
Then the Nets nearly pitched a five-minute shutout, allowing only Ray Allen's meaningless layup with 16.3 seconds left. Livingston capped things with a spinning dunk with 1:27 left after nearly breaking Coles' ankles.
"Whatever I can do to help my team win," Livingston said. "I was just trying to play a good floor game, get our offense into sets. I did an OK job. I could have done better. We got stagnant a little bit there in the fourth quarter and OTs. I take responsibility for that, but I was just trying to set guys up."
James finished with 36 for the Heat (27-10), which was without Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier. James got it going after halftime, shooting 7-for-12 and helping Miami storm back from a 76-64 deficit at the start of the fourth quarter.
"We just tried to make it tough on him," said Paul Pierce (23 points), who missed three-point attempts at the end of regulation and the first overtime that could've won it for the Nets. "He's the best player in the game right now. We did a good job on him. The good thing I thought we did today, we attacked him, too. You never see LeBron foul out.
" . . . When you can get a player of that caliber out of the game who hardly ever fouls out, it's a tribute to what we're doing on that end, too. We're attacking him as well and playing good defense on him."
The Nets are playing their best ball of the season and seem to have discovered a winning formula.
"There was a couple of things," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "Their ability to trust each other down the stretch, their energy, their effort, their will to fight. I guess all of the above. What a great basketball game to watch by both teams and for my guys to fight for 50-something minutes. It's a win that we needed."