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Nets bounce back, dominating Heat, 111-87, in Miami

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Talk about a bounce-back victory!

Following a three-game skid and losses in six of seven, the Nets (13-22) got a much-needed victory over the Miami Heat (18-17), 111-87, Friday night at American Airlines Arena. It was the second time this week that the Nets led by 25 or more points in the second half.

Oddly enough, the game looked like it was going to be a script similiar to the last few games: The Nets lacked energy to start and had to dig themselves out of a hole. At least it looked that way when Miami jumped out to an 18-8 start, but Brooklyn turned the 10-point deficit into a nine-point lead following a 21-2 extended run.

They built on it picking up on the lead of Caris LeVert and the second unit. After combining for 80 points in the loss against New Orleans on Wednesday, the bench rolled up 55 points Friday ... to 22 for Miami. The bench one again led Brooklyn’s charge and lifted them to a 20-point lead at half.

Overall, that’s a 51-21 advantage since the 10-point deficit in the first quarter.

LeVert had 10 points, seven assists, five rebounds and a steal in 14 minutes of action in the opening half. It’s not like Spencer Dinwiddie is playing bad, but the offense has looked more in-sync with LeVert playing point.

He finished with his second career double double, the first coming in Mexico City. His line barely spoke to his versatility: 12 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and a steal in 23 minutes. The 11 assists mark a new career-high.

No surprise, Brooklyn’s stellar defense led to better offense.

They’ve been forced to inbound the ball and operate in a halfcourt set which is not their strong suit. This time, they held Miami to a season-low 34 percent shooting, 3-of-26 (12 percent) from 3-point, which enabled them to play fast in the open court and shoot a ton of uncontested three-pointers.

They extended the lead to 38 in the third quarter and this game was over a lot earlier than anybody anticipated.

They contained Wayne Ellington who had ZERO 3-pointers and seven points. He entered Friday’s matchup having hit 17 3-pointers in the previous three games. The Nets, meanwhile, finished the night 49 percent from the field, 11-of-26 (42 percent) from 3-point with 25 assists. They also out-rebounded Miami 54-43.

“As upset as I was with our defensive performance against the Pelicans, we just turned the tables. It was a complete turnaround,” Kenny Atkinson said. “Great job by the guys being ready. Even at halftime, you know the Heat are going to come out with a lot of energy, and we responded again.”

The bench was crucial with 55 points on the night.

Joe Harris was the leader of the bench mob and scored a career-high 21 points on a perfect 4-of-4 from three. Harris is the eighth Net to register a 20-point game off the bench this season, which matches a franchise record for the most different 20-point scorers off the bench in a season, previously done in the 1986-1987 season.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has finished in double figures in all but three games in December. He finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and two steals on 8-of-9 shooting. The 19-year-old Jarrett Allen matched a career-high with 12 points and nine rebounds in 20 minutes.

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FIVE GAMES OUT

The Nets are five games out of the eighth seed with their next game at Boston on New Year’s Eve. Games like this make you think how good the Nets can be if they played more consistent on the defensive end ... and had a healthy D’Angelo Russell and/or a rejuvenated Jahlil Okafor.

MORE MINUTES FOR ALLEN

This was the second time in three games that Allen had a stat line of 12 and 9, inching closer to his first double-double. Atkinson has been giving the 19-year-old more and more minutes. For the month of December, Allen is averaging nearly 19 minutes a game. For the month, he’s putting up 7.1 points, 4.8 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three (2-of-5) and 88.9 percent from the line, perhaps his biggest improvement.

In November, Allen averaged 4.4 and 4.7 in 15.7 minutes and in October, 4.0 and 2.7 in 15 minutes.

For a different perspective, head on over to Hot Hot Hoops.