NEW YORK — Paul Pierce said he heard whispers with the Brooklyn Nets in an 0-2 hole against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Nets responded with a roar, pulling out a 104-90 victory in Game 3 at Barclays Center on Saturday night. Miami leads the best-of-three series, 2-1, with Game 4 on Monday back in Brooklyn.
“We weren’t going to panic. We wanted to show them we’re not scared of them,” said veteran forward Pierce, who had 14 points. “Everybody was talking about us getting swept, whispers and stuff, but all they did was hold down home court. It’s our job to hold down home court.”
Led by guard Joe Johnson, who scored a team-high 19 points, six different players scored in double figures for Brooklyn, which shot 60 percent (15-of-25) from 3-point range in its first-ever playoff win over Miami.
Brooklyn attacked from the outset and made the extra pass, which resulted in open shots, especially from beyond the arc. The attack was led by point guard Deron Williams, who bounced back from a scoreless Game 2 to score nine points and dish out 11 assists.
“The way they are playing me with two on the ball and coming up at me, I need to make the right plays and get people the ball — I think I did that,” Williams said.
The Nets also had huge contributions off the bench from forwards Andray Blatche and Mirza Teletovic as Brooklyn had a 40-25 edge in bench points.
“You can’t game plan for that,” Johnson said. “We got guys coming off the bench and playing with a lot of energy and effort. It helps us out as a team and gives us that extra boost.”
After just four points and four rebounds in first two games of the series, Blatche erupted with playoff career highs in points (15) and rebounds (10). Teletovic scored 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.
“The big thing about this team is that we trust everyone and when you look at (Blatche) and what Mirza did for us off the bench was big,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “D-Will set the tone by being aggressive and attacking. Again, it’s not just Mirza we trust, we trust everybody and the last two games Mirza has shot the ball extremely well.”
While Blatche was solid throughout the first three quarters, Teletovic heated up in the third quarter, burying three 3-pointers as part of an 18-5 run that gave the Nets a 74-61 lead, its largest margin to that point.
“We didn’t want to let them off the hook taking bad shots, not driving the ball,” said guard Shaun Livingston, who had 12 points and five assists. “We just wanted to attack. We had to be the aggressors tonight.”
Brooklyn didn’t let off the gas in the fourth quarter, leading by as many as 20 on a Pierce 3-pointer with 4:52 left.
“A lot of the threes they made were contested, so you clap your hands and pat them on the back for the ones they made because that’s just our scheme,” Miami forward LeBron James said.
James came out firing early, scoring 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field in the first quarter. But he was just 2-of-8 the rest of the way en route to a game-high 28 points.
“Our defense was better in the second half, especially in the third quarter,” Williams said. “I think LeBron had 16 in the first (quarter), and in the third quarter I do not think he had a field goal. I think we locked down defensively and I think that was the difference.”
Guard Dwayne Wade had 20 points and forward Chris Bosh 12 for Miami, which lost its first game of the playoffs.
“They played a better game than us, simple as that,” Wade said. “It is 2-1 and we have to move on. We have to start preparing for the next one.”
NOTES: The Nets set a single-game franchise playoff record with 15 3-pointers Saturday. … F Andray Blatche is the first Nets player since Armen Gilliam on April 29, 1994, to record a double-double off the bench in a playoff game. … With two 3-pointers, Nets F Paul Pierce moved into a tie with Jason Kidd for eighth place in NBA playoff history with 228 made 3-pointers. … Miami G Ray Allen and Nets G Alan Anderson were involved in a brief skirmish with 9:34 left. Each player was issued a technical foul. … Miami F Shane Battier competed in his 100th career playoff game. … Heat F LeBron James scored 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field in the first quarter, his highest scoring output in a single quarter this postseason.
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