MIAMI (AP) — The latest Ray Allen playoff moment was not highlight-reel worthy. It will not have a catchy name like The Shot. It probably was forgotten seconds after it happened.
But it might have been the biggest play for the Miami Heat on Thursday night.
The time: 3:10 left in the fourth quarter, Heat leading the Brooklyn Nets by eight. The play: LeBron James gets a pass from Allen and fires a 3-pointer from the right sideline. Allen, standing some 35 feet from the basket at the time, starts sprinting toward the basket. He runs past Paul Pierce and Mirza Teletovic, neither of whom remembered to box anyone out, then leaped past a flat-footed Deron Williams.
The result: Allen got the rebound, the first of three offensive boards for Miami in what became a 100-second possession, James eventually scored and the Nets were done. That marathon trip down the floor was the dagger as the Heat took a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series by beating the Nets 94-82.
“Ray is always to the rescue,” Heat forward Chris Bosh said. “He’s amazing. He’s awesome. I want to be like him when I grow up.”
It was the eighth straight playoff win for Miami, a streak that began against San Antonio in Game 6 of last season’s NBA Finals – the game where Allen took a pass from Bosh and hit the overtime-forcing, season-saving, title-reign-extending 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in regulation.
Bosh knew exactly what to do on that play. And Allen knew exactly what to do on his eighth and final rebound Thursday. He could have tried to tip it in, or lay it up, or maybe even dunk the ball. Instead, he quickly realized that time was worth more than points there to Miami, so he took two dribbles and kicked it out to Mario Chalmers, allowing the Heat to reset with a fresh shot clock.
By the time Brooklyn touched the ball again, another minute-plus had passed and the outcome was basically decided.
“Very deflating,” Pierce said.
Game 3 is Saturday night in Brooklyn.
James scored 22 for Miami, while Bosh scored 18 and Dwyane Wade finished with 14 for Miami, the last remaining unbeaten team in this year’s playoffs. Allen was scoreless at halftime, having missed his only shot, before getting 13 points – as many as any two Nets combined – in the second half on 5-for-7 shooting.
“I wasn’t worried that I only shot the ball one time at halftime,” Allen said. “If I was back in my shoot-the-ball-a-lot days, I might have been `I only shot the ball one time.’ This team doesn’t need me to score. It helps. But it can be any one of us, any given night. So I just try to sit, kind of lay in the weeds a little bit and see how it shakes out.”
For the second straight game, Miami had five players in double figures.
“That’s what our team is all about,” James said. “We don’t really care who scores.”
Teletovic set a Nets playoff record with six 3-pointers on his way to a 20-point night off the bench. Shaun Livingston scored 15, and Pierce and Joe Johnson each added 13 for the Nets.
Williams was 0 for 9 from the field, the worst shooting night of his career.
“That one hurt,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “We were right there. We gave ourselves, on the road, an opportunity against the world champs. We let the game slip away. That one possession when they got four offensive rebounds, it didn’t lose the game for us.”
It was three rebounds, but no matter. It was still a backbreaker for the Nets.
Teletovic scored inside with 3:39 left to get Brooklyn within eight. For the next 100 seconds, Miami kept possession. James took all four shots on the trip, including a layup set up by Wade with 1:59 left.
It all started with The Rebound.
“I knew if I didn’t go in, I was going to have a play at it,” Allen said. “Those are playoff-basketball plays that you talk about.”
Allen has scored 32 points in the first two games, seven more than his former Boston Celtics teammates Pierce and Kevin Garnett combined, and that’s been a big key to the Heat grabbing the first two games of the series.
James wore a microphone during Game 1 of the series and it caught him telling Michael Beasley during a stoppage in that game that ever since he saw the film “He Got Game” he’s thought Allen could do no wrong on the court.
And it’s deserved, since Allen saved Miami’s title shot last season and seems to be doing more of the same this time around.
“That’s what Ray does,” Wade said.