NEW YORK —
Wade scored 46 points against Boston in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, and James’ best in a Heat uniform had also come against the Celtics, his memorable 45-point performance that saved Miami’s season in Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference finals.
Pierce, who asked to guard James after Game 1, was on the wrong end of an assault that was ever better this time.
James and the Heat had shrugged off a couple days of chatter from Pierce, who said the Nets weren’t afraid of the Heat. But things were testy at the start, with first-quarter technical fouls for James, Pierce, Shane Battier and Alan Anderson. Miami started quickly again, making nine of its first 12 shots, and led 27-22 after one behind 12 points from James.
He opened the second on the bench and Brooklyn started with a 9-2 spurt to take its first lead at 31-29 when Andrei Kirilenko converted a three-point play. James was a force once he returned — especially after a second foul against him seemed to get James more annoyed than any of Pierce’s talking did.
James made three straight baskets to turn a three-point deficit into a three-point lead, and he gave Pierce a glare after a thunderous slam later in the period. He had 13 points in just 7 1⁄2 minutes of the quarter, and the Heat led 56-49 after making 24 of 38 shots (63 percent) in the first half.
He had 13 straight Miami points in the third, but the Nets were able to get back in the game while the rest of the Heat were being shut out. Brooklyn cut it to one on a few occasions before James made a pair of free throws after coming up with a steal, and Miami led 79-76 going to the fourth.
Notes: Mirza Teletovic was held to four points and missed all three 3-point attempts. He had been 11 of 19 in the series, Wade saying before the game it was “red alert” when he entered. ... As they have during postseason home games, the Nets had a Brooklyn-based entertainer announce their starting lineups. On Monday it was Mike D of the Beastie Boys. Denzel Washington, Spike Lee and Floyd Mayweather Jr. were also in the crowd.
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