Pierce powers Nets to another win over struggling Heat
Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) drives to the basket as Miami Heat center Chris Bosh (1) defends during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Photo by Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.
MIAMI - Paul Pierce tallied 17 of his 29 points in the third quarter as the Brooklyn Nets continued their mastery over reigning NBA champ Miami Heat with a nail-biting 96-95 win Wednesday.
The 36-year-old Pierce paced the offence for the Nets who have beat the Heat in all three meetings this season and snapped an eight-game losing steak at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Miami had the ball after a timeout with 3.5 seconds left, but Shaun Livingston knocked away a pass that was intended for LeBron James in front of the basket to ice the victory in front of a crowd of 19,616.
Pierce said two-time defending National Basketball Association champion Heat have lost their "fear factor."
"On that last play, we got the steal and let the clock run out," Pierce said. "We know when we play good team defence that we can beat them now.
"They used to have that fear factor. When we are on our game we can come in here and get a win."
Pierce spent his first 15 NBA seasons with the Boston Celtics who drafted him 10th overall in the 1998 entry draft.
Pierce came to the Nets this season as part of a blockbustre trade between Boston and Brooklyn that also saw the Nets get Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry.
Both previous wins over the Heat this season were in New York. Brooklyn edged the Heat 101-100 on November 1 as part of their 5-14 start and then won 104-95 in double overtime on January 10.
Despite a slow start to the season, the Nets are hoping that this nine-game home win streak will give them confidence down the stretch and into the postseason. They were expected to challenge for the top spot in the East but the struggles and injuries had slowed their progress.
"These are the big games. We are glad we came away with win," Pierce said.
The Nets played without Garnett who missed his seventh straight game on Wednesday. Andrei Kirilenko also didn't play because of a sprained ankle.
Chris Bosh tallied 24 points while Dwyane Wade scored 22 for the Heat who have lost four of their last five games.
James finished with just 19 points on six-of-13 shooting from the field for the Heat, who had their six-game home winning streak halted.
"That's obviously a tough one to lose here at home," said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra. "The turnovers going down the stretch in the fourth quarter hamstrung us."
Miami clinched a playoff berth with a 99-90 win over the Washington Wizards in their last outing.
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