Rapid Reaction: Heat 102, Nets 96

NEW YORK -- The Miami Heat may not be unbeatable, but LeBron James is most definitely unstoppable.

James made Paul Pierce eat his words on Monday night, erupting for a playoff career-high-tying 49 points in Game 4, as the Brooklyn Nets fell to the Heat 102-96 at Barclays Center.

The Heat now lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series 3-1.

Pierce told Nets coach Jason Kidd he wanted the assignment of guarding James. But on Monday night, James was unguardable.

He had 12 points in the first quarter, 13 in the second quarter, 15 in the third quarter -- including a stretch of 13 straight -- and nine in the fourth quarter. He got into the paint at will. The Nets had no chance to stop him.

With the game tied at 94, Brooklyn decided to double-team James with 57 seconds left. His hockey assist off that double led to Chris Bosh's go-ahead 3-pointer from the corner.

James scored 22 points in Games 1 and 2, then had 28 in Game 3. He had 25 by halftime in Game 4.

The Nets hit just two field goals in the final 7:24 -- one in the final 4:24 -- going ice-cold down the stretch.

What it means: The NBA’s most expensive team is on the verge of playoff elimination. Just eight teams out of 217 in league history have ever come back from 3-1 down to win a series (3.7 percent). Bottom line: The Nets are in trouble.

The Truth: Pierce had seven of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, as the Nets overcame a nine-point, third-quarter deficit to take the lead for the first time since the second quarter in the final period. It didn’t last, as Brooklyn’s offense fizzled in crunch time.

D-Will: Deron Williams had his best performance since Game 1, scoring 13 points, dishing out seven assists and grabbing six rebounds. Williams, who shot 3-for-20 from the field in the previous two games, went 5-for-14 Monday night. Despite getting in early foul trouble, Williams continually attacked the paint, but he didn’t make enough plays in the second half.

Stat so: The Heat shot 52.9 percent from the field, while the Nets, who hit a franchise playoff-record 15 3-pointers in Game 3, went just 5-for-22 from downtown in Game 4. Kevin Garnett had eight points and seven rebounds. Shaun Livingston had 13 points and four assists.

Joey Ice: Joe Johnson appeared to hurt his left hand in the third quarter and had ice on it as he sat on the bench. He would return in the fourth quarter but missed a key floater late in the game. Johnson finished with 18 points on 5-for-15 shooting.

Chippy early: James, Shane Battier, Alan Anderson and Pierce were called for double-technical fouls in the first quarter. James was jostling in the post with Pierce, who was assessed his second foul. The heated rivals then exchanged words, with James knocking the ball out of Anderson’s hands after the foul was called. Anderson didn’t like that.

Who’s in the house: Boxer Floyd Mayweather, former New Jersey Devil Ilya Kovalchuk, actors Denzel Washington, Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, New York Knicks No. 1 fan Spike Lee, and, of course, Jay Z and Beyonce.

Up next: Game 5 on Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.