Nets win thriller in Miami to complete season series sweep over the Heat with 88-87 victory

Mike Ehrmann

For the first time in the Big Three Era, a team beat the Heat four times and it was your Brooklyn Nets and in dramatic fashion: a stirring block by Mason Plumlee on the league's best. It stunned the Miami crowd ... and few back in New York too!

A win is a win, no matter which way you get it ... and this one was the biggest win of the season!

Tuesday night, the Nets were up against the reigning MVP LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Despite the inconsistency early in the season, the Nets have Miami's number. In the three games they had played before Tuesday, the Nets have won all three, two by a point, one in overtime, the last a thrilling 96-95 victory in Miami.

In the fourth and final matchup between the two teams, the Nets completed the season sweep over the Heat with a stirring 88-87 victory. Mason Plumlee blocked LeBron James with three seconds remaining to win the game for the Nets. The Nets are the first team in the "big three" era to sweep the Heat in a four-game season series. In fact, it was the first time in James career that any of his teams were swept in a four-game regular season series.

"You can’t really take time to think, ‘It’s LeBron,’" Plumlee told reporters in Miami. "It’s winning time, so it doesn’t matter if it’s Dwight [Howard], LeBron, whoever. You just have to meet them at the rim."

James also provided the Nets with some bulletin board material, first protesting he had been fouled on the play. Then in the locker room, he was asked by Craig Sager, "Are the Nets your biggest challenge in the East?"

James chuckled, then replied: "Get outta here Craig. Next question."  He didn't name which team is the Heat's biggest challenge.

Before things got started, Jason Kidd announced that the Nets would be without Kevin Garnett and Andray Blatche in this one. For the Heat, Dwyane WadeUdonis Haslem, and Greg Oden were out.

Between great defensive intensity and positive offensive mis-matches, the Nets got off to an incredible start. They led 26-14 after the first quarter, holding the Heat to just 38% from the field. While the Heat struggled to execute, the Nets were shooting 55%, behind the lead of Joe Johnson's seven points on 3-3 shooting. The Heat's 14-first quarter points were the lowest they've scored all season.

The script seemed to flip to end the first half. While the Heat really picked up their offensive flow, the Nets struggled to execute and come up with defensive stops, finishing the half with just a 44-43 lead. The Heat outscored Brooklyn 29-18 in the second quarter.

With Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, and Deron Williams on the bench most of the second quarter, the second unit as a whole struggled to stop LeBron James, who finished the half leading all scorers with 13 points.

Mirza Teletovic logged quality minutes in the second quarter. He scored eight points in his first nine minutes of action. Leading for the Nets was Joe Johnson who finished the half with 11 points on 5-6 shooting. With Andray Blatche's absence, guys like Mirza Teletovic,  Marcus Thornton, and Alan Anderson needed to step up their play in order for the Nets to override the defending champs in the second half.

Quick first half stat: All eight players that received first-half minutes for Brooklyn scored at least one point. Again, we see a balanced scoring attack from Brooklyn.

Coming out of the gate to start the second half, the Nets got off to a decent start. They started with a 7-2 run, but the Heat answered with a 7-1 run of their own. Besides from the Heat being up by as many as three, the third quarter was pretty balanced.The Nets momentum early was ignited off two consecutive shots from Paul Pierce. Unfortunately for Brooklyn, Pierce picked up his fourth foul; which was then followed by a technical foul, shifting the momentum Miami's way.

The score heading into the fourth quarter: Heat 65, Nets 62.

The game stayed at a back and forth pace. The Heat led most of the way through the early stages of the fourth quarter, but failed to pull away from the Nets. A big reason: Marcus Thornton. Whenever the Nets seemed to hit a dry spell on offense or defense, Thornton made a big play. He finished the game with 16 points & four steals. In Sacramento, Thornton was heavily criticized for his defense.

After failing to convert on two free throws, the score was 82-81 in favor of Miami with two minutes remaining.

It was in the midst of a 9-2 run for the Nets, Marcus Thornton hit a clutch contested three, followed by a tough floater from Joe Johnson. The Nets owned a four point lead with under a minute to go.

The Heat cut the deficit down to just one with 30 seconds remaining, when Joe Johnson failed to convert on a three. Down raced the Heat, 10 seconds remaining --  Rashard Lewis passed it off to an open Lebron James down low. It looked like it would be the game winner when LeBron skied towards the hoop with an open lane, just to see Mason Plumlee come up with an incredible block as time expired!

Brooklyn wins yet again against Miami. It's the fourth win versus the reigning NBA champs this season, the first time they've been swept in a season series since the "big three" formed. This would be a very fun series come playoff time.

Final score: Nets 88, Heat 87.

LeBron James led all scorers with 29 points, followed by Joe Johnson's 19. Paul Pierce, Marcus Thornton, and Mirza Teletovic all scored in double digits, helping spark the offense at several points of the game.

The Nets continue their three game road trip this Wednesday, where the will face off against the Orlando Magic.

For more on the Miami Heat, check them out at Hot Hot Hoops.

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