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Nets hope to follow Heat's example

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- On Monday, LeBron James and the Miami Heat celebrated last season's NBA title at the White House with President Barack Obama.

One day, Joe Johnson hopes he can reach that pinnacle with the Brooklyn Nets.

"I would love to get the chance to do that, especially here in Brooklyn. To bring a championship here would be great," Johnson said Tuesday. "But we still got so much room for improvement before we can get to that to point. We just got to take it one day at a time and in this last stretch, coming down before the playoffs, position ourselves to where we can someday make it to White House."

For now, though, the Nets (27-18) are focused on snapping their 12-game losing streak to the Heat, which dates back to Nov. 14, 2009. Miami visits Brooklyn for the only time this season on Wednesday night.

The Heat beat the Nets by a combined 43 points in their two previous meetings.

"We definitely want to come out and make a statement," Johnson said.

The Nets are a perfect 17-0 against sub-.500 teams, but just 10-18 versus .500-or-better opponents. After taking on the Heat, the Nets face the Chicago Bulls on Friday night and the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday evening.

The perfect test for a team that wants to be considered among the NBA's elite.

"We have to show that we can be good consistently and that we can be good against the better teams," said interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, who was quick to point out that the Nets have beaten the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks (twice), so they're certainly capable.

"We'll find out about where we're at right now and how we can continue to improve," Carlesimo said. "Am I happy with where we're at? Yes. But I'm very, very sure that we have a long way to go. I like where we are relative to where we were, but we're not anywhere where we need to be."

It starts on Wednesday night against the defending champs.

"They're the best team in the league until somebody beats them," Carlesimo said of the Heat. "Maybe when the year's over and we've played 82 games, somebody will have a better record than them, but they're still the champions and they're still going to the Finals on a pretty regular basis. So until somebody knocks them off, Miami is the barometer that you measure yourself against, and we haven't shown yet that we can beat these guys."