NEW YORK (AP) — LeBron James arrived in Brooklyn to an unfriendly welcome from the Nets’ Reggie Evans, who downplayed Miami’s title and James’ talents.
Bad idea, though James decided not to fire back.
”I let my game do the talking,” James said.
No other response was necessary.
James had 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and the Heat blew out Brooklyn in the second half for a 105-85 victory Wednesday night, their 13th in a row over the Nets.
Dwyane Wade added 21 points and Chris Bosh had 16 for the Heat, who outscored the Nets 56-36 in the second half after it was tied at halftime.
”When we’re playing at a high level, that’s what we’re capable of doing,” said James, who acknowledged being annoyed by Evans’ comments to the Daily News. ”So we showed tonight what we’re capable of, both defensively and offensively. The whole package, everything, we had it going tonight.”
In their first game since falling in double overtime Sunday at Boston, the Heat made sure this would be a much easier night. James, Wade and Bosh were all on the bench long before the end, and Miami shot 52 percent from the field and made 11 of 19 3-pointers.
Brook Lopez, chosen to his first All-Star team Wednesday, scored 21 points for the Nets, who had their eight-game home winning streak snapped. They fought back from a tough start to briefly take a third-quarter lead before James led the onslaught that sapped the energy from what had been a lively crowd for the nationally televised game.
”It’s the third time we’ve played them and we turn it over 19 times in all three games,” Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said. ”I thought our guys really played an excellent first half and then we dug a big hole doing the same things that we did in the third quarter.”
Playing for the first time since visiting the White House on Monday, the Heat looked plenty capable of getting invited back next year. A 10-10 team on the road when they arrived in Brooklyn, the Heat were nearly flawless offensively and defensively in the third quarter and outscored the Nets 36-14.
”It’s the first (game in the) arena, had some good old-fashioned smack talk before the game, it was great,” Bosh said. ”Guys were motivated tonight. We’re trying to find a way to bring that energy every night.”
Andray Blatche hit all five shots and scored 12 points for the Nets. Deron Williams, battling the flu, was held to nine points and five assists, while Joe Johnson shot just 4 of 15 for his 16 points.
Already routed twice in Miami this season, the Nets tried to talk tough, Evans lessening the Heat’s title because it came in a lockout season and diminishing James’ talent in comments earlier Wednesday.
It takes more than talk to beat the Heat.
Johnson’s jumper gave Brooklyn a 55-53 lead with 9:18 remaining in the third quarter, but the Heat overwhelmed with an awesome display of attacking over the next few minutes.
Wade made a jumper and James hit a 3-pointer to give Miami the lead for good, the start of a 26-5 run that featured the Heat at their best, James slamming down a lob from Wade on one possession and burying a 3-pointer in transition on the next.
The Nets completely wilted under the Heat’s pressure, letting guard Mario Chalmers grab an offensive rebound while seated on the court, and throwing one inbounds pass away when there was no Miami player anywhere near to apply pressure.
”They turned up the defense and we just got flustered and couldn’t really get anything going, and because we couldn’t get anything going, I think our defense suffered because of that,” Williams said.
Chalmers’ basket ended a run of six straight points and made it 79-60, and the Heat lead was 85-63 after three.
The Nets were trying to tie a franchise record with their 12th win of the month, and now will face a tough start to February when they host Chicago on Friday and the Lakers next Tuesday.
Brooklyn has been a different team since Carlesimo replaced Avery Johnson in late December. The Heat said they’ve noticed little change in the Nets’ scheme but plenty in their effort, James essentially saying it was too bad Johnson had to take the fall for the Nets not wanting to play harder earlier.
The effort was there Wednesday. It wasn’t nearly enough.
James loudly made his entrance, screaming ”He here!” as he entered the locker room. The Nets made their pitch to him three summers ago in free agency, and haven’t beaten him since he decided on Miami instead.
Miami hit seven of its first 10 shots, led 30-20 after one quarter, and was up by 12 with 7 1/2 minutes left in the first half. But the Nets got much tougher defensively, getting some help when the Heat got sloppy and started turning it over and missing free throws, including three in a row by James and Wade. Blatche hit all five shots in the second, Lopez added six points, and the Nets came all the way back to even it at 49 when Williams made a jumper with 2.3 seconds remaining.
”We just knew we could play better,” Wade said. ”That’s all we talked about in the locker room was ‘Listen, we can’t turn the ball over,’ and to play that well to start the game off and to give the lead back and it’s tied coming into halftime, that’s not what we want to do. Our job, we want to get better on the road, not get worse, so I thought we took a step forward.”
The Heat had just about all the highlights from there, a brief ”Lets’ go Heat!” chant even breaking out in the second half.
NOTES: Though Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is in town from Russia for this game and Friday, Carlesimo said they had no discussions planned about his job status. ”I don’t feel the need to, or anything like that,” Carlesimo said. ”I don’t think he’s coming in to see me, I think the fact that it’s Miami and Chicago might have a little something to do with it. Two pretty good games to come in and see the team. So I think the fact that I’m here is nice, but I don’t think he was sitting in Moscow the other day saying, ‘You know, I’ve got to go see P.J.”’ … Miss America, Mallory Hagan, sang the national anthem. Hagan, New York’s first winner since Vanessa Williams, said she has moved six times since first coming to Brooklyn and hopes to return once her yearlong duties are completed. ”I was Miss New York when the Barclays Center opened up and so I was looking forward to being able to be here, and now it’s even better that I’m Miss America and Brooklyn is where I came from,” she said. … The Heat signed Chris Andersen to a second 10-day contract and signed Jarvis Varnado for the remainder of the season.