The Brooklyn Nets haven’t beaten the Heat in Miami since the days when Jason Kidd ran the team from the court instead of the sidelines. Things are different for the Nets these days though as they beat the Heat 96-95 at American Airlines Arena on Wednesday night. They are now undefeated in three games against Miami this season and are 23-9 since Jan. 1.
“We went on the road against the champs, the guys got a couple of stops there at the end and we got the win,” Kidd said.
“Team basketball, that’s who we are,” Kidd continued. “It’s not just one guy. We always have a guy that comes off the bench to give us a lift and there is a starter that gets hot.”
The one guy off the bench was Mirza Teletovic Wednesday night as he was 3-for-5 from behind the arc and had 17 points including 11 in the second quarter. Kidd explained afterward that it was Paul Pierce that recommended leaving him in the game. “Mirza was on fire. That’s something about those guys on the bench. they always let me know when guys should stay. Paul told me to let him go, let him keep playing.”
Pierce was the one starter that got hot. He led the game with 29 points on 9-for-12 from the floor, 5-for-7 behind the arc and four rebounds. He was red hot in the third when he scored 17 points. “He made some big shots to put us ahead there in the third,” Kidd said.
This was a close game the entire time. No team led by more than eight, there were 10 different lead changes and they were tied 10 times too. The Nets had the lead for the most part in the second half and, like Kidd said, they got a couple of stops in the end and won the game.
On the final play, Miami was down by one with 3.5 seconds on the clock. They used a couple of timeouts to get the ball down the court. Chris Bosh made an inbound pass intended for LeBron James, but Shaun Livingston got a hand in there to knock it away. Joe Johnson then saved the ball from going out and the clock ran out for Miami.
“He has long arms, he uses his basketball IQ, we trust him and he is in charge on defensive plays,” Kidd said of Livingston.
“They placed a lot of my value on the defensive side matching up against the top scorers,” Livingston said. “I just try to play within the system and help my team.”
One of the keys to this game was the Nets outrebounding the Heat 37-33. They also held them to just three offensive boards and outscored them 12-1 on second chance points. In three games against Miami this season, they had outscored them 37-9 on second chance points.
After the game both Kidd and Livingston credited Pierce for being the big leader on the team, especially with Kevin Garnett out with an injury.
“The process of being away from the team that he was with his whole career it takes time,” Kidd said of Pierce’s early season struggles. “It’s a trust process, it just takes some time and it’s an ongoing process where we’re going to continue to have guys get to know one another.”
“Especially with KG out, he’s the heart and soul of the team,” Livingston said. “Especially with KG out we knew that he was going to have to be there. We just have to follow his lead.”
Pierce admitted that with KG out he has made a conscious effort to step up his role recently. “When Kevin is around we kind of share the duties and when he’s not around I try to be a little more vocal during games and in practice. I try to let them know that this is the crucial time of the year where we really have to win games.”
This has been a nice run by the Nets lately. They held their own during the circus road trip, have established a real home court advantage at the Barclays Center, and have beaten the Heat, the Bulls and the Raptors in the last 10 days. Perhaps most importantly, Jason Kidd seems to have settled into his role as head coach comfortably and having a positive influence on the team.