‘JJ’ jump-starts Nets and LeBron fouls out in 2OT thriller over Heat for FIFTH straight victory

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Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News

He may not have worn ‘Joe Jesus’ on his back during nickname night, but Joe Johnson delivers for Nets once again.

NETS 104, HEAT 95 (2OT)

This isn’t a cake winning streak for the Nets. They’re toppling some of the NBA’s best, from the Thunder to the Warriors and now, the Heat.

It was a thrilling 104-95 double overtime win against Miami on Friday in Brooklyn, a validating victory behind 32 points from Joe Johnson and another gritty defensive effort.

With LeBron James fouled out, the Nets scored the first 11 points in the second overtime and cruised down the stretch, defeating the defending champs for the second time this season. Brooklyn (15-21) has won five straight to start the new year, and none of the wins were more impressive and dramatic than Friday’s win.

The Nets missed three potential game-winners in regulation and the first overtime. After James – who finished with 36 points in 49 minutes — fouled out with 36 seconds left in the first overtime, Norris Cole hit the tying jumper for the Heat with 3.3 seconds remaining

LeBron James fouls out during the first overtime.

Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News

LeBron James fouls out during the first overtime.

Paul Pierce airballed his potential game-winner at the buzzer, forcing the second extra period and an easy five minutes for Brooklyn.

In regulation, the Nets missed two shots on the final possession. Johnson – the most efficient player in the NBA in clutch situations – failed to convert on the first jumper, but Shaun Livingston grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked it out to Paul Pierce.

Pierce, who had 23 points, had an isolation against James at the top of the key – a dramatic moment with the crowd on its feet – and the 25-foot jumper just rimmed out at the buzzer.

The Nets led by as many as 12 in the fourth quarter and were in control for most of the night, but couldn’t stop a 13-point effort from a fired up James in the fourth quarter. With 8:37 remaining in regulation and the Heat making a run, Mirza Teletovic wrapped his arms around James’ neck in an effort to stop the layup. James took exception to the foul, running aggressively into Teletovic’s face.

Players pulled back James, while Teletovic threw his hands up in the air and smiled. After the review, the refs ruled that Teletovic – the 28-year-old Bosnian – committed a flagrant foul.

Mirza Teletovic and LeBron James both get fouls and get into it in the fourth quarter.

Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News

Mirza Teletovic and LeBron James both get fouls and get into it in the fourth quarter.

Johnson, who has been Brooklyn’s best and most consistent player this season, hit his first eight shots and finished with 22 points in the first quarter, but couldn’t sustain it and finished 14-of-25 from the field. His first-quarter effort was just his second-highest point total for a quarter this season, seven short of his third quarter last month against the 76ers.

He finished the first half with 26 points, as the Nets went on an 8-0 run to take a 53-45 lead going into the break.

The much-improved defense – exhibiting the transformed intensity and smart rotations that have defined Brooklyn’s winning streak – held the Heat to just 13 points in the second quarter, the lowest total for an opponent in any quarter this season.

Kevin Garnett, coming off his best game of the season in a victory over the Warriors, followed up with first half by scoring eight points on 4-of-4 shooting, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Heat (27-10) left New York with back-to-back losses.

Thanks to the Knicks, the Nets caught a break while extending their winning streak.

'The Big Ticket' heats up with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News

‘The Big Ticket’ heats up with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Following Miami’s ho-hum effort in Thursday’s loss at the Garden, coach Erik Spoelstra sat three of his starters – including Dwyane Wade – due to nagging injuries. Apparently the Knicks drained Wade, who is hampered by intermittent knee pain and wasn’t ready to play in back-to-back games.

So he sat on the sideline during his third trip to the Barclays Center.

“It was a little disheartening (Thursday night). It was an intense game. I played a lot of minutes. I played 40 minutes,” said Wade, who was forced to play so much because the game was close until the end.

As expected, Miami also sat Shane Battier (quadriceps) and Mario Chalmers (Achilles). But Wade’s absence was a bit of a surprise considering he played in seven straight before Friday.

“Luckily, I don’t live my life on what the outside world thinks,” Wade said. “Like I said, I have to continue to be smart about this situation and understand the bigger picture.”

Brooklyn, which played without two of its regular starters (Deron Williams and Brook Lopez), was trying to beat the defending champions for the second time this season. The Nets had snapped a 13-game losing streak against the Heat in their home opener on Nov. 1, but immediately fell on unexpected hard times and lost 20 of their next 31 games.

“They’re playing with a lot more confidence now. The season is a long season. When they were going through their struggles last month, everybody was ready to make conclusions about them or anybody in the Eastern Conference, I just kind of rolled my eyes,” Spoelstra said. “It was way too early, way too premature. They were going through a lot of adversity. They’re starting to put it together and things can change just like that in this league.

“All of a sudden you get confidence, you get continuity, and your outlook changes, your game changes and suddenly everything can change at the snap of a finger. I’ve said this before that our first team under Stan Van Gundy (in 2004-05) – we started off 0-7 and everybody thought we’d be the worst team of all time. And then by the end of the season, we had earned a third seed and home court and made it to the second round. So things can change.”


Daily News – Sports

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