Nets 128, Heat 124: Kyrie Irving Scores 18 in Fourth Quarter as Brooklyn Holds Off Miami

Kyrie Irving called it “winning time,” and he and the Brooklyn Nets held up down the stretch for a 128-124 win over the Miami Heat on Saturday night.

The Nets bounced back from two losses in Cleveland, and recovered as well when the Heat erased most of Brooklyn’s 18-point lead in the fourth quarter.

“That was a great response from the guys, especially to start the game came out, made the extra effort, multiple efforts play collectively,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “Offensively too, to put that energy in the offense. Sometimes we have a tendency to stand and watch each other or to get stagnant; but we moved it, we made quick decisions at that end. And defensively, just the will was there, the will was there to make them feel us. So that was a big improvement from Cleveland and out of the way they came out and set the tone and then found a way to win in the end.”

After the Heat opened the fourth quarter on a 13-0 run to cut Brooklyn’s 18-point lead to a single point, it was Irving who stopped the Miami run with a 3-pointer, then pushed the Brooklyn lead back to eight with under a minute left while scoring 12 of 16 Nets points, capped by a drive that put Brooklyn up 120-112.

Irving finished up with 18 points in the fourth quarter, making 6-of-7 shots. He scored 28 for the game on 10-of-17 shooting, with seven assists and six rebounds.

“You see how special and talented and hard-working Kyrie is,” said Kevin Durant. “He works on all of those shots every day, and he comes in with that mentality, especially late in the games, that he can knock those down for us. So, he’s an all-world player, he’s a great teammate, but when the ball is in his hands late in the game, our team is so unpredictable because he can make a pass, he can score in mid-range, score from the 3-point area, get to the basket, and we’ve got weapons around him. It makes us tough to guard. We’re going to need that from him going forward, and he was phenomenal in the fourth.”

Durant led Brooklyn with 31 points, shooting 11-of-19 and 4-of-7 from 3-point range with four rebounds and four assists.

Joe Harris had 23 for the Nets, making 7-of-12 3-pointers and shooting 8-for-14 overall. James Harden posted another double-double with 10 points and 11 assists, plus seven rebounds.

Jeff Green finished with 11 points, making 3-of-4 3-pointers and grabbing five rebounds. DeAndre Jordan and Bruce Brown both had eight points and eight rebounds.

“We just had the command, the flow of the game,” said Irving. “I feel like we injected ourselves as a group throughout the game, and then down the stretch, we had a few good plays that were working and we stuck to it. They were in zone primarily, throwing some of the same tactics or strategy that the Cavs were throwing at us: 2-2-1 press, and then putting us in 3-2 zone, or 2-3 zone, so we made adjustments, and we’ve just got to keep on getting better. We’ll see them on Monday and I’m pretty sure they’ll make more adjustments.”

The Nets dished out a season-high 34 assists on their 44 field goals and shot 53.7 percent overall and 51.4 percent from 3-point range. Brooklyn outrebounded Miami, 47-29.

That rebounding edge was part of the Nets standing up defensively after a few rough outings. They also limited the Heat to 28.3 percent shooting from 3-point range.

“I thought we played with a sense of urgency,” said Durant. “We made sure our technique was right and our schemes. I think we did a good job of forcing those guys off the three-point line. They threw it to Bam (Adebayo), who is an All-Star in the post, and he did his thing. Jeff and DJ made him shoot tough shots all night. You’ve got to live with those. He’s such a great player that he’s going to keep them in the game with his passing and rebounding and shotmaking. I think overall we did a solid job. Duncan Robinson didn’t get as loose. I mean, he got a few late, but he didn’t get as loose. So, I think we followed the gameplan.”

The Nets took a 66-56 lead into halftime after shooting 51.2 percent overall and 52.6 percent from 3-point range in the first half. Harris had 20 points at the break after making six of his first nine 3-pointers.

The long-range barrage began immediately with Harris opening he game with back-to-back threes, followed by another triple from Durant and then an Irving drive for a quick 11-2 Brooklyn lead. The Nets made 7-of-12 3-pointers in the first quarter on the way to a 36-25 lead going into the second quarter.

“I think sometimes it just happens in the flow of the game,” said Harris. “A lot of my shots were early on where they were playing zone guys were getting into the gaps. We struggled against the zone against Cleveland and it was noticeably better tonight where we were denting it, getting in the paint, making simple plays where it's a lot kickouts that allowed me to get a lot of room and looks early on.”

The Nets were up 60-42 for their biggest lead of the first half after an 8-2 run, and led 66-50 before the Heat got two threes of their own to close the half and get within 10.

Miami sliced the Brooklyn lead to six in the opening minutes of the second half, but Durant’s back-to-back 3-pointers pushed the lead back to 12, and when Durant capped a 10-2 run with a bucket in the lane, the Nets were back up 78-64. They continued to rain threes, making 6-of-10 in the quarter, and took a 96-82 lead into the fourth.

The Heat opened the fourth quarter with a 13-0 run to get within a point, but Irving put Brooklyn back on the board with a 3-pointer, Harden drew a foul and a goaltend on a drive for a 3-point play, and Durant dropped in a catch-and-shoot, turnaround jumper to put the Nets up 104-95 with 8:24 to play.

Miami got back within 111-110 with three minutes to go before Irving drove and pulled up to pop in a short jumper, but Goran Dragic did the same for the Heat to make it 113-112. Irving’s top-of-the-key 3-pointer put the Nets up 116-112 with 1:41 to go. Durant’s pull up jumper had Brooklyn leading 118-112 going into the final minute. Irving’s drive and finish made it 120-112 with 51 seconds left.

The Heat made it a single-possession game down the stretch, but Irving and Harden combined to make 5-of-6 free throws in the final 15 seconds to hold off Miami.

“It was one of those games where we could have found a bunch of ways to lose it,” said Nash. “We're hanging on to our lead second unit struggled a little bit we lost that, that margin, and that's a tough position when you put your starters back in late in the game when the momentum swung the other way. So I was happy with the character and resolve we showed to make some shots, to play against a different look. That zone, it's not something you face every day. So, trying to figure it out and stay calm, stay poised, play principles more so than sets. And they, most importantly show the resolve after a tough week to get the win.”