Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/2/13
Nets fans had been waiting for this game ever since draft night, when general manager Billy King made the biggest move of the offseason by bringing Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and their championship pedigrees to Brooklyn. And on opening night at Barclays Center, the new-look Nets didn’t disappoint. The Nets went toe-to-toe with the two-time defending champion Heat on Friday night and emerged with a 101-100 victory in front of a raucous sellout crowd of 17,752, snapping a 13-game franchise losing streak against the Heat in a game that felt much closer to playoff intensity than a regular-season contest. “Whenever you’re trying to establish something against the champs, you got to expect it to be like a playoff-type atmosphere,” said Pierce, who finished with 19 points — tying Joe Johnson for the team-high — to go along with five rebounds and six assists. “[Garnett] really talked about that coming into the game, expect it to be like the playoffs, and don’t expect anything to go our way. “[The Heat are] the team to beat. It’s a good thing we got a taste of this kind of atmosphere this early in the season to kind of see where we’re at. “Miami, whenever they come to town, they’re a measuring stick for everybody.” It was Pierce, the player who has probably had more one-on-one matchups with LeBron James than anyone in the NBA over the past decade, who rose up and made play after play down the stretch for the Nets, who bounced back nicely from their season-opening loss in Cleveland. When James drove to the basket with a little more than five minutes remaining and the Heat trailing by 10, Pierce emphatically blocked the reigning MVP’s attempted layup, yelling afterward and sending the hometown fans into a frenzy. That play came just a few moments after Pierce, who found himself squared off against his former Celtics teammate, Ray Allen, on the perimeter, rose up and drilled an 18-foot jumper in Allen’s face to put the Nets up by 12 with 6:13 remaining. Then, after the Heat had cut what once was a 16-point second half lead to two with 7.9 seconds remaining, Allen missed the second of two free throws and Pierce found a way to secure the rebound. After being fouled, Pierce calmly knocked down both free throws to give the Nets a four-point lead they never relinquished.
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