By Julius Romero for NBA.com Philippines
NEW YORK – LeBron James and the Miami Heat visited Brooklyn Thursday night in front of a sellout crowd of 17,732 at Barclays Center to witness the auspicious event celebrating current Nets head coach Jason Kidd’s No. 5 jersey retired and raised up the rafters along with five other Nets legends.
Not long after the ceremony, it was back to the real business at hand: A possible preview of the coming season’s Eastern Conference finals, albeit the Indian Pacers and Chicago Bulls are equally strong contenders in the East against the defending NBA champions – Miami Heat.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s starters mostly misfired with Mario Chalmers (9 points on 2-for-8 shooting), an ineffective Shane Battier (0-for-2), and James Jones (3 points on 1-for-6 shooting). James and Chris Bosh both played over 28 minutes and were the only consistent players from the Heat with 16 markers apiece.
Brooklyn, coming off a 82-80 squeaker against Boston the other night came up much more imposing against Miami, outshooting the Heat (43.2 percent versus 31.8 percent on field goals; 75 percent versus 42.9 percent on free throws). Equally impressive was the Nets’ bench who combined for more than half the team total (46 points) to outgun the Heat bench (18 points). Coach Spoelstra brought out the kid gloves and sat out eight of his players including powerhouse players Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and Chris Andersen.
The Nets, who did not play their own share of veteran players (Andrei Kirilenko, Deron Williams, and Jason Terry) due to injuries, were steady offensively moving the ball around well (22 assists) in spite of giving up over 20 points from 25 turnovers.
The Heat fizzled especially in the fourth quarter after being held to a total of only 9 points by the Nets bench.
Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Alan Anderson led the Nets in this 86-62 preseason victory against the Heat. The team’s vocal leader and cheer captain, Kevin Garnett, only played 10 minutes.
During the post-game locker room interview, Coach Spoelstra noted that he had hoped for a more offensive effort from his team, and looked forward to getting his players back to Miami for a Friday off to recharge and prepare to host the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, in a rematch of the seven-game NBA finals series, which gave the Heat its third title in June this year.
The Nets and the Heat meet again at Barclays Center on Nov. 1 for Brooklyn’s season opener. That is where the real pace begins, as the Nets try to grab the bull by the horn and stop the Heat from going back to the Finals.
Photo: Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) shoots over Brooklyn Nets' Joe Johnson (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Oct. 17, in New York. The Nets won the game 86-62. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)