MIAMI — The Miami Heat, who went winless against Brooklyn in four regular-season games, turned things around Tuesday night, defeating the Nets 107-86 in the first game of the Eastern Conference semifinals at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Heat forward LeBron James, who earlier Tuesday lost out on the NBA’s MVP trophy, which went to Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, scored a game-high 22 points.
But James was just part of a balanced attack that also included forward Chris Bosh (15 points, 11 rebounds) and guards Ray Allen (19 points), Dwyane Wade (14 points) and Mario Chalmers (12 points).
In addition, Heat forward Chris Anderson contributed with seven points and four blocks. But he suffered a right knee contusion in the fourth quarter and did not return.
The Heat pulled away in the third quarter, when they shot 70.6 percent from the floor and outscored the Nets 33-23. That gave Miami a 79-66 lead, and the Nets never seriously threatened again.
Brooklyn was led by guards Deron Williams (17 points) and Joe Johnson (17 points).
Game Two is set for Thursday night in Miami.
The Heat, who swept the Charlotte Bobcats in four games in the first round of the playoffs, had eight days in between games to rest their players, including James (thigh bruise) and shooting Wade (hamstring injury).
James leads his personal postseason matchup with Nets forward Paul Pierce 14-12. Pierce was held to eight points on Tuesday.
Nets center Kevin Garnett was held scoreless for the first time in his playoff career. He played 16 minutes.
Brooklyn, which was stretched to seven games in its first-round matchup against the Toronto Raptors, had just one day in between games.
The first quarter featured three lead changes before the Heat emerged on top 22-20. The Nets kept Miami from scoring any fast-break points, but the Heat had a 14-6 advantage on points in the paint. Both teams shot at least 50 percent from the floor.
Miami stretched its advantage in the second quarter, but only slightly, taking a 46-43 into halftime. Brooklyn again kept Miami off the fast break — just two points — but the Heat pounded the ball inside.
The Heat had a 26-10 edge on first-half points in the paint. Meanwhile, the Nets got more points from the perimeter, making six of 15 on 3-point attempts (40 percent). The Heat sank three of 13 attempts from long distance (23.1 percent).
Miami, which never led by more than seven points in any of its four regular-season games against Brooklyn this season, had an 11-point advantage midway through the second quarter.
NOTES: According to bovada.com, the Heat are the favorite to win the NBA title at 7-5 odds. The Nets are sixth pick at 16-1. … As for winning the East, the Heat is the 1-3 favorite, and the Nets are the 7-1 third pick. … Heat SG Dwyane Wade, speaking before Tuesday’s game about Nets F Paul Pierce, 36, and C Kevin Garnett, 38: “We thought when we played them in Boston, we buried them, but they just won’t go away.” … Nets SG Shaun Livingston, who gave up his starting job to Alan Anderson late in the previous series against Toronto, opened Tuesday’s game. … The Heat (average age 30.6) and the Nets (30.0) join the Dallas Mavericks (30.6) as the three oldest teams in the NBA.
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