Few likely figured public address announcer Dave Diamante would still need to dive into his usual route, grabbing the microphone and standing up at his spot at the scorer's table while imploring the sellout crowd at Barclays Center to rise and inject some energy into the home team.
No Dwyane Wade. No Luol Deng. Not even a Josh McRoberts sighting. Chris Bosh was joined in the Heat's starting lineup by Shawne Williams, Danny Granger, Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers. Miami was in the midst of a three-game losing streak and was playing on the tail end of a back-to-back.
Sounded like the perfect scenario for the Nets, right?
That's what makes last night's 95-83 loss to the Heat all the more numbing. Instead of snapping a three-game losing streak and feeling good about themselves leading into Wednesday's game against Jason Kidd's Bucks, a frustrating stretch that began on the West Coast last week continued as the Nets were left searching for answers.
"It's disappointing when you are at home," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said, "and you don't play with energy for 48 minutes."
The Nets (4-6) just didn't have it on either side of the ball. The lone bright spots were Bojan Bogdanovic matching his career high with 22 points and Jarrett Jack scoring 15 points, nine in the fourth. Deron Williams struggled, shooting 4-for-13. He finished with 14 points and seven assists. Mario Chalmers paced the Heat (6-5) with 22 points. Bosh added 15.
In what's becoming a maddening theme of late and one of the reasons for their inconsistent play, Brook Lopez never truly asserted himself and didn't dominate in any aspect despite having a smaller defender on him. Even with the 6-9 Williams, the former Net and one-time Knick, starting at power forward and defending him, Lopez never got it going and posted five points and only one rebound in 21:37. The 7-footer spent the better part of the second half glued to the bench, taking a seat at 6:02 of the third quarter, and didn't check back in until 6:56 was left in the fourth. He immediately made a defensive gaffe, letting Udonis Haslem slip open on a screen and Haslem nailed a jumper from the right elbow for an 82-74 Heat edge.
Hollins had apparently seen enough and Lopez was removed from the game following a brief stint of 1:11, replaced by Bogdanovic. Headed to the bench with the Nets trailing 82-77, Lopez was visibly ticked by another quick hook.
Getting him out of the game did little to change things, however, as the Heat built an 88-80 lead, and perhaps not coincidentally sealed things once Lopez re-entered. He was late rotating out to a wide-open Bosh, who swished a three-pointer for a 91-80 bulge.
With Lopez ineffective, Williams uncharacteristically cold from the floor and the Nets' defense frighteningly porous in the second half after holding Miami to a 37.1-percent showing in the first half, Brooklyn slowly became unglued in the third quarter. The Heat shot 11-for-18 from the field in the quarter.
By racing out on a 22-8 run that included an 11-0 spurt, the Heat quickly turned a 43-38 halftime deficit into a lead as large as 10 points in the third quarter, putting pressure on the Nets and forcing them to play catch-up for the entire second half.