WHAT IT MEANS: LeBron James didn’t need Dwayne Wade to destroy the Nets. He did it by himself. With Wade out of the lineup, James exploded for 22 of his game-high 32 points in the first quarter on a bum left ankle -- added seven rebounds, nine assists, two steals and one crucial block -- and the Heat rolled to a 101-90 win over New Jersey on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd at the Prudential Center. Miami has won eight of its first nine to kick off the 2011-12 season, while the Nets have dropped seven of their first nine. New Jersey, the NBA's worst field goal percentage team coming in, shot just 33.7 percent and trailed by as many as 24.
BRON BRON: James was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field in the opening stanza and 8-for-9 from the free throw stripe. Not even 2011 NBA Finals nemesis DeShawn Stevenson could stop him. The Heat jumped out to a 10-0 lead as the Nets missed their first six shots from the field. New Jersey got within 14-12 at the 5:28 mark, but James scored 17 of Miami’s final 19 points in the period, and the Heat opened up a 31-18 advantage.
TURNING POINT: The Nets came out firing in the third quarter, cutting their 24-point deficit to 10 after Deron Williams (10 points on 4-for-16 shooting, 10 assists) drained a 3-pointer from the left wing with 4:26 left. Rookie MarShon Brooks had a chance to make it an eight-point game in transition, but James ran back on defense, pinned Brooks’ finger-roll against the backboard and Shane Battier drilled a 3 on the other end. And after an offensive foul on Kris Humphries, Norris Cole connected from distance putting the Heat back up by 16. The Nets got within nine with 2:04 left in the fourth on Shawne Williams' corner 3. James was fouled and knocked down a pair of free throws on the ensuing Heat possession, and that was it. James put an exclamation point on his performance with an emphatic one-handed slam with just over a minute remaining.
DO THE HUMPTY HUMP: Humphries complemented D-Will with team-highs of 25 points, 12 rebounds and three steals. He took a career-high 21 shots, making eight of them.
NETS NOTES: Starters Mehmet Okur and Damion James did not play due to injury. ... Brooks was supposed to be limited because an ankle ailment, but played 23 minutes and scored 12 points off the bench. ... Anthony Morrow started again at shooting guard, and has clearly rediscovered his stroke. Morrow drained three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points. ... The Nets turned the ball over 21 times.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: Miami outscored New Jersey on the fast break, 34-11.
UP NEXT: Nets vs. Hawks, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
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