Just under a week after Dion Waiters sucked the air out of the Barclays Center with his second-straight game-winner, the Brooklyn Nets made the trip to South Beach to take on Waiters, Hassan Whiteside, and the Miami Heat. Miami came in as winners of seven-straight games, with two of those coming from cold-blooded threes off the hand of Waiters, who was recently named the Eastern Conference’s Player of the Week.
Waiters scored 19 points, added 6 rebounds, and 9 assists while sparking a 17-0 run that ultimately did in the Nets, who still look for that elusive tenth win of the season, falling in Miami to the Heat 104-96.
The last matchup, back on January 25th included a Nets fourth quarter debacle, as Brooklyn entered the final twelve minutes with an eighteen point lead, but were outscored 38-17 in the frame, to fall 109-106.
The Nets held a 32-28 advantage after one quarter, but led by as many as seven at multiple points of the first quarter, paced by 8 from Brook Lopez, as all five Nets starters finished the frame with a positive plus/minus. The backcourt of Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters scored a combined 15 of the 28 Heat points in the period.
The Nets allow a league-worst 115 points against per game and, while they outscored Miami in the first, both teams shot over 50% — as the Nets finished at 58%, compared to Miami’s 52%.
The second quarter kicked off with a 7-0 Miami run to take a 35-32 lead as Brooklyn’s bench went cold for the first three minutes. Isaiah Whitehead buried an open layup to spark a Brooklyn 8-0 run in response to claim a five-point lead.
Brooklyn’s largest lead in the second quarter was 11 points, which quickly evaporated with another 17-0 Heat run, with an exclamation point from Hassan Whiteside. While the Nets were supposed to visit Miami for Monday’s game, they actually landed on Waiters Island, as Dion Waiters cooked up 15 points in the first half, including drilling back-to-back contested three-pointers. Miami went on a 17-0 run to turn Brooklyn’s 11-point lead into a 4-point halftime lead, 56-52.
Miami continued their run through the break well into the third quarter, starting the frame on a 10-2 run. The Nets, who shoot the fourth-most three-pointers in the NBA, hit just one of their first twelve attempts — in comparison, Miami connected on 10-22 shots from downtown. The Nets bench was able to claw back into the game and trim it to just four, but in typical Nets fashion, a role player turned killer poured in the points. This time it was James Johnson to play the role of spoiler — but more on that later.
With both teams in the bonus, the game crawled to the finish. Trevor Booker forced the fifth foul on Whiteside, sending him to the bench. The Nets were unable to capitalize with the Miami rim protector on the bench, as former Net Willie Reed hit a turnaround push shot to put Miami up 97-90 with three minutes left. Booker cut the lead down to four, but then lost a jump ball to the much smaller Goran Dragic and the aforementioned Johnson slammed home a put-back dunk to all but ice it.
Miami held on for the win, handing Brooklyn their thirtieth-straight road loss against an Eastern Conference opponent. Dragic led the Heat with 19 and Johnson added 17 points off the bench in their red-hot win. All five Nets starters finished with negative +/- while everyone on the Nets’ bench was in the positives. The Nets shot 3-16 from the field in the fourth and Bogdanovic scored sixteen points, which sadly was a Nets high.
14 PTS, 5-17 FG, 3 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 4 TOV
Something happened to Brook Lopez between the first and second quarter, maybe the Monstars zapped up his skills. Lopez torched Hassan Whiteside for eight points in the first quarter, but then just managed another six all game. Lopez has also been dependable from three-point land all season, Monday, he was 0-5 and Lopez also finished a Nets worst -19.
13 PTS, 6-12 FG, 4 REB, 5 AST, 0 STL, 1 BLK, 0 TOV
Whitehead shot the ball well, hitting on 6-10 looks including the fancy reverse in the same athletic fashion he’s shown all year. Since the rookie has moved into the much more comfortable role of backup point guard, he’s been able to try new things and improve without having to worry about guarding Isaiah Thomas, Kyle Lowry, or any other starting guard every night.
5 PTS, 2-7 FG, 4 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0 BLK, 1 TOV
Games like tonight’s make you think “oh, what could have been.” In an ideal world, Randy Foye would have come off the bench as the Nets’ backup point guard, all while mentoring Isaiah Whitehead on the side. With the ongoing hamstring issues nagging Lin, Foye may be the best option until Joe Harris returns.
Foye will hit the occasional three-pointer but the defending is his real issue, as, standing at just 6’4, guarding some of the bigger or stronger guards like Waiters can become a problem.
4 PTS, 2-8 FG, 6 REB, 2 AST, 0 BLK, 2 STL, 4 TOV
Caris LeVert struggled shooting the ball, but was still part of a very successful bench lineup, finishing with a +/- of +9. LeVert has played just barely over half the Nets’ games this season and with such limited experience, you can’t expect him to not have off-nights every once in a while.