8:00 PM ET, April 8, 2014
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
MIAMI -- A debated block at the buzzer. A season sweep of the NBA champions.
Hello, Brooklyn -- the only NBA team this season to go unbeaten against the Miami Heat.
With Miami down by one and time running out, Rashard Lewis somehow got a pass from underneath the basket to James, who rose as Plumlee jumped to contest the play. Replays showed Joe Johnson made some contact with James as he started his move and that Plumlee hit the four-time MVP's hand on the dunk try, but the Heat never got the call they wanted.
"My initial thought was to just foul and make him earn it at the free-throw line," Plumlee said.
That's precisely what the Heat thought he did.
"He grabbed my right hand," James said. "He didn't do it on purpose, but he got my right hand."
Said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: "It was a foul from my vantage point. But what can you do?"
Time expired, and just like that, Miami's lead in the Eastern Conference was down to a half-game -- one in the loss column -- over Indiana.
Johnson scored 19 points, reserve Marcus Thornton had 16 and Paul Pierce scored 14 for the Nets. Plumlee had two of his three blocks in the last 2 minutes, the first of them on a short try by Chris Bosh that Miami felt should have been whistled for goaltending.
Still, his late work couldn't get Plumlee a one-night respite from rookie duty.
"He still got to come in here and carry the bags and get the towels," Pierce said.
Final score of the four Brooklyn-Miami games: Nets 389, Heat 377. Brooklyn won three of the games by a single point, becoming the third team in NBA history to have that many narrowest-of-margin wins over an opponent in the same regular season and the first team ever to do so without playing more than four times.
And the fourth went to double overtime.
All four could have gone Miami's way. None of them did.
"They're a good team," Spoelstra said. "They're one of the hotter teams since All-Star break. Every single one of these games, however you want to slice it, however you get to that point, there are plays to be made in the fourth quarter. And for whatever reason, they've made more plays."
Brooklyn became the first team in the last two years to sweep the Heat. Miami was the only team in the league to beat every team last season and would have repeated that feat with a win Tuesday.
James had 29 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Heat, who got 12 points from Bosh and 10 from Norris Cole.
Up by one, Johnson took a jumper that was way off with 11 seconds left. Miami has been down by one in the final seconds twice in the last couple weeks, with James not getting a chance at the last shot either time.
This time he did, and Miami still couldn't break through. Each of the last three Heat losses have come by a single point -- and they've dropped six in all by that margin this season.
"That's just basketball," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "You have the best player in the world going against a rookie and we got lucky."
Thornton's steal and layup with 3:27 left put the Nets up one, before James answered seconds later with a dunk, part of a final quarter that featured seven lead changes.
Deron Williams missed a pair of free throws with 2:17 left and Brooklyn down a point, but Plumlee blocked Bosh's layup on the next Miami possession. Thornton hit a 3 from the right corner to put the Nets on top, Johnson followed with a beat-the-shot-clock score from the lane, and Brooklyn was suddenly up four with 1:01 left.
A mere 5 1/2 seconds later, the lead was down to one.
James drove past Johnson and got fouled by Pierce on the way to a three-point play, getting Miami within 86-85. The teams alternated baskets on their next possessions, but the Nets wouldn't trail again.
Miami's Dwyane Wade (hamstring) missed his seventh straight game -- his 26th absence this season for the Heat, who were also without Greg Oden (back) and Udonis Haslem (stomach virus). Brooklyn sat Kevin Garnett, who is expected to play at Orlando on Wednesday.
Alonzo Mourning, the Heat player-turned-executive whose induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame was announced Monday, received a video tribute and loud ovation during the first half. ... U.S. Olympic speed skater Eddy Alvarez, a Miami native and silver medalist from the Sochi Games, was part of the sellout crowd.
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 8: Deron Williams #8 of the Brooklyn Nets shoots the ball against the Miami Heat during game...(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Around The Association
MVP: With Dwyane Wade (hamstring) out for an seventh straight game and Chris Bosh struggling offensively, LeBron James (29 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists) had to shoulder much of the scoring load for the Heat, but it wasn't enough.
X factor: It's feast or famine when it comes to Marcus Thornton, who's one of the streakiest scorers in the NBA. Tonight? Thornton was feasting. He had 16 points and provided the Nets with some big buckets in crunch time.
Defining moment: Mason Plumlee had the play of the game when he blocked LeBron's game-winning dunk attempt in transition, following a missed 3-pointer from Joe Johnson, to seal the victory for Brooklyn and complete a season sweep of the Heat.
Next 5 Games
From Elias: The Nets are the first team to sweep a LeBron James team in a season series of 4 or more games.
From Elias: The Nets beat the Heat by 1 point for the 3rd time this season on Tuesday. The last team to beat the same opponent by 1 point three times in the same season: 1979-80 Suns over Trail Blazers.
Why have the Heat struggled against the Nets this season? - The Nets are forcing the Heat to play at a slower pace, as the Heat are averaging nearly 7 fewer possessions per game against the Nets than they are against all other teams. - The Nets average 6 more possessions per game against all other teams than they do against the Heat this season, so the Nets are making a point to play at a slower pace against them. - The Nets are playing great defense against the Heat, holding the Heat to 7 fewer points per 100 possessions compared to their games against all other teams. - How are they defending them so well? The Heat are averaging just 8.5 fast-break points and 3.8 second-chance points per game against the Nets, much below their averages against all other teams. - The Nets are allowing about 10 second-chance points per game against all other teams this season but only 3.8 per game against the Heat.[+]
Heat This Season
The Heat scored 14 first-quarter points, tying their fewest first-quarter points in a game this season. That game was their season opener against the 76ers, who opened the game on a 19-0 run.
From Elias: The Heat are winless in 3 games against the Nets this season. Only 3 teams in NBA history have gone on to win the NBA title after being swept 4-0 or worse in a regular-season series against an opponent.[+]
Swept 4-0 or Worse By Opponent in Regular Season - Won Title Same Season
ESPN Stats & Information
- NBA Home
- Boston Celtics
- Brooklyn Nets
- New York Knicks
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Toronto Raptors
- Chicago Bulls
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Detroit Pistons
- Indiana Pacers
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Atlanta Hawks
- Charlotte Hornets
- Miami Heat
- Orlando Magic
- Washington Wizards