The Nets left the court knowing they were dead even with the Heat.
Too bad it was only halftime.
With owner Mikhail Prokhorov watching from high above center court from his luxury suite, Miami outscored the Nets 36-14 in the third quarter to blow open a game that was tied at halftime and cruise to a 105-85 victory over the Nets in front of a sellout crowd of 17,732 inside Barclays Center.
The Heat (29-13) have swept all three meetings between the two teams this season, and all have been similar: competitive first halves followed by dominant second-half performances from the defending champions.
"It's disappointing, because in any sport, you measure yourself up against the champion," Gerald Wallace said. "They're the champions, and they've embarrassed us all three times.
"What does that say for us trying to be a championship team? What does that say for us as a team?"
It says the Nets (27-19) still have plenty of work to do in order to come close to being on the same level as not only the Heat, who have now beaten the Nets 13 times in a row. It also says the Nets, who have now been blown out by the Grizzlies, Rockets and Heat within the last week, aren't living up to the potential that Prokhorov, who said before the season that the Eastern Conference Finals is a realistic goal for this group, believes it has.
"We didn't [just] lose those games," Wallace said. "We got our ass kicked in all three of those games. Those teams just pretty much dominated us. Memphis dominated us, Houston dominated us, and Miami in the second half dominated us tonight.
"We're saying we want to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, we want to compete in the playoffs and eventually compete for a championship, but we're having letdowns against some of the top teams in the league, and we can't do that and be a successful team."
With 7:28 left in the third quarter, the Nets trailed 58-57 after Brook Lopez — who led the team with 21 points, seven rebounds and three blocks after being named to the All-Star team earlier in the day — scored off an assist from Deron Williams.
But the Heat then exploded for a 15-0 run over the next 3:41, including a highlight-reel alley-oop from Dwyane Wade to LeBron James, that was capped by a Chris Bosh jumper to give the Heat a 73-57 lead.
Nets 'embarrassed' in second half as Miami pulls away in blowout
New York Post | Jan 31