LeBron James stood in the Heat locker room and looked at the box score. It showed the uneven stats following Miami's 105-85 victory. The Nets, with their lofty title aspirations, were dismantled in the second half, a result made sweeter to James because of what was said prior to the game.
Earlier in the day, Nets forward Reggie Evans called out the Heat. He told the New York Daily News that Miami's title "doesn't prove nothing." That it was tainted by a lockout-shortened season.
Those words fresh in his mind, James cherished the moment.
"You just can't come out and say something like that about a champion," James said.
And then he added: "We did our number on him."
This was no run-of-the-mill, mid-winter game and the embers were further stoked by Evans, who finished with a quiet six rebounds in 20 minutes. The Nets were not shy about admitting this was a measuring stick of sorts for them. With owner Mikhail Prokhorov watching from his suite and the defending champions in the Barclays Center, there was plenty to prove.
Instead, a tie game four minutes into the third quarter turned into an onslaught by the Heat. They outscored the Nets by 22 in the final eight minutes of the quarter, 30-8, and made it clear how wide the distance between the two teams was.
Afterward, the frustration was obvious. This was the Nets' third loss in four games and each defeat was a blowout at the hands of a playoff team.
"We didn't actually lose those games — we got our (butts) kicked in those games," Gerald Wallace said. "Those teams pretty much dominated us. Memphis dominated us, Houston dominated us and Miami in the second half dominated us. We say we want to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and we want to compete in the playoffs and eventually shoot for a championship but we're having letdowns against some of the top teams in the league. We can't do that and be a successful team."
Nets fall to Heat, 105-85, after disastrous third quarter; LeBron James scores 24 points
Newark Star-Ledger | Jan 31