MIAMI — Backed by a 12-0 run in the final minutes, the Miami Heat advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals with a 96-94 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Reserve guard Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left to give Miami its first lead of the fourth quarter at 92-91. Nets guard Shaun Livingston then missed a shot in the lane and Heat forward Chris Bosh grabbed the rebound with 22 seconds left.
Allen made two free throws to stretch Miami’s lead.
Nets guard Joe Johnson, who had a game-high 34 points, cut Miami’s lead to 95-94 with a 3-pointer. Heat forward LeBron James followed by making one of two free throws to put Miami up 96-94 with 9.5 seconds left.
The Nets lost possession with five seconds left when James slapped the ball out of the hands of Nets forward Paul Pierce. But the call was overturned, giving the Nets a final chance.
Johnson got the ball at the foul line, but James and Allen stole the ball to preserve Miami’s win.
Late heroics aside, the Heat was led by James (29 points) and guard Dwyane Wade (28 points).
The Heat, which beat the Nets in five games, now await the winner of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Indiana Pacers and the Washington Wizards. The Pacers lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.
In the “Big Three” era of James, Wade and Bosh, the Heat are now 9-0 at home in games in which they had the opportunity to close out a playoff series.
In addition to Johnson, the Nets were led by Pierce (19 points) and point guard Deron Williams (17 points).
Johnson scored 12 points in the third quarter as the Nets outscored Miami 26-24 and padded the seven-point lead they had built at halftime. The Nets went into the fourth ahead 75-66.
There were six lead changes in the first quarter, and the Heat ended up on top, 23-22. However, it was an atypical Heat quarter — the NBA’s top-shooting team made just 35 percent of its shots from the field despite 12 points from Wade.
Brooklyn, with nine points from Pierce, shot 50 percent from the floor.
The teams traded the lead seven more times in the second quarter. Wade had 20 points by halftime, but the Nets were up 49-42 at the break.
Cold-shooting Miami shot 34.1 percent from the field in the first half, including 1 of 16 3-point attempts. The Heat got just 13 first-half points from players other than Wade and James.
NOTES: It is possible that this postseason marks the end of the 19-year NBA career of Nets C Kevin Garnett, who turns 38 on Monday. Garnett averaged a career-low 6.5 points in the regular season. In the opener of the Heat series, he was held scoreless in a playoff game for the first time in his career. … The future of Nets F Paul Pierce, 36, also is uncertain. He will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. … In a statistical oddity, reserve G Ray Allen led Miami in rebounding twice in the first four games of this series. … Heat G Dwyane Wade, who was rested repeatedly in the regular season, is healthy now. He has yet to miss a postseason game and is averaging 34 minutes.
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