MIAMI (AP) — In 25 seasons of Miami Heat basketball, the club had never won its first four home games of any season.
That is, until now.
And the Heat are making it look easy.
Dwyane Wade scored 22 points on 10 for 14 shooting, LeBron James finished two assists shy of a triple-double and the Heat clamped down defensively again to beat the Brooklyn Nets 103-73 on Wednesday night.
Miami scored 31 points off Brooklyn turnovers, and starting with the final minute of the first half, the Heat outscored the Nets 57-32.
”When we get stops, we’re going to break open a lot of games because we can score,” James said. ”So that’s the No. 1 key.”
James had 20 points and 12 rebounds in only 30 minutes, and Rashard Lewis came off the bench to score 13 points on 6 for 9 shooting for the Heat (4-1). Miami – which plays its next six games on the road – has won its four home games by an average of 17.8 points.
Kris Humphries had a double-double by halftime, then was silent in the second half and finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets (1-2). Deron Williams scored 14 for Brooklyn, which got 12 off the bench from MarShon Brooks.
”It was just an off-night because we had a lot of open looks,” said Nets guard Joe Johnson, who finished 4 for 14 with nine points. ”I know I did and I missed a few myself. Other than that it was just shots that we normally make that we didn’t make tonight. Against a good team like Miami, you have to make them pay.”
Miami started 3-0 at home in four other seasons, always falling in the fourth game. Not this time. The Nets held the lead four times in the opening quarter, but all by one point and lasting a total of 2:33.
Other than that, all Miami. The Heat started 3 for 12 from 3-point range, then made seven of their last 12, giving them 40 makes from beyond the arc in their last three games.
”They’re tough when you’re turning the ball over,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. ”I thought there were times when we got our half-court defense set that we were decent. We got the ball out of LeBron’s hands some, out of Wade’s hands some, but then we didn’t recognize their shooters and their shooters made shots tonight.”
The Heat shot 52 percent, holding New Jersey to 38 percent. Miami finished with 25 assists and 12 turnovers; New Jersey finished with 12 assists and 19 turnovers.
”It was good to see another game, sub-40 percent,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”Our guys were, for the most part, committed to try to make an impact on that side of the floor.”
Brooklyn didn’t lose sight of Miami in the first half, still being within five with less than a minute remaining until the break, before the Heat got late scores from Wade and James to take a 50-41 edge into the locker room.
And as was the case against Phoenix (with a 23-6 run) on Monday, the Heat used the third quarter as the springboard.
It was a 54-46 game after Keith Bogans made a 3-pointer for Brooklyn early in the third, but after that, all Heat. Miami needed just 91 seconds to put together a 10-0 run – two baskets by Wade started it, and 3-pointers from Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers finished it, putting the Heat up 64-46.
”We know there’s going to be moments when you’re not going to be able to shoot the ball as well as you want to,” Wade said. ”It averages out for this team. … That’s why you have to be a good defensive team to be successful in this league.”
The outcome was never again in doubt. Chalmers extended the lead to 20 when he sliced down the lane for a nifty layup with 3:45 left in the third, and James made a stepback 3-pointer as time was running out in the period for what was then Miami’s largest lead, 79-56.
By then, the only drama was whether James would get his 33rd regular-season triple-double, which would have been his first since March 29, 2011.
Instead, he remained on the bench in the fourth, the Heat comfortably ahead the whole way.
”One, I didn’t know,” Spoelstra said. ”Two, that’s not the time to put him back in. We’re thinking big picture.”
NOTES: Wade sent his mother, Jolinda, flowers during a second-quarter timeout as a video message played on the overhead scoreboards. … The Nets were without Gerald Wallace, who missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle. Brooklyn is hoping he may be able to do more before its game Friday at Orlando. … Heat F Udonis Haslem was poked in the left eye in the first half, dropping to his knees in pain when he got hit but staying in the game. … Wade drew laughter after the morning shootaround, pretending he was miffed about Nets part-owner Jay-Z not attending the meeting when the team tried wooing him as a free agent in 2010 – but that the rapper appeared in person for James’ sit-down that summer with the team. ”True,” James said.
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