After opening the season with two straight wins, New Jersey was quickly humbled by the star-studded Miami Heat. The Nets don’t have to wait long for another chance to prove they can compete with one of the NBA’s top teams.
The visiting Nets look to avoid a fourth consecutive loss overall and sixth straight to the Heat on Saturday night.
Coming off a disastrous 12-win season and with 11 new players in the mix, New Jersey (2-3) beat Detroit and Sacramento before losing 101-78 at home to Miami on Sunday.
New Jersey shot 35.3 percent for the game and scored 36 second-half points while losing to the Heat for the eighth time in nine meetings.
“Not a very good job on any level,” first-year Nets coach Avery Johnson said.
That loss proved just how much the Nets need to improve in order to seriously contend with an elite team like the Heat.
“I told my team during the course of the year that there will be two or three or four games where you’re not very good, and this was one of them,” Johnson said.
The Nets, however, have yet to bounce back. New Jersey shot 42.8 percent and failed to score more than 90 in consecutive losses to Charlotte and Orlando.
Leading scorer Brook Lopez(notes) (20.2 points per game) missed his first 13 shots and finished with 10 points as New Jersey was more competitive, but still lost 105-90 to the three-time defending Southeast Division champion Magic in its road opener Friday.
Lopez scored 20 against Miami on Sunday. However, the third-year center has been limited to 10.3 points per contest while shooting 34.7 percent in four road games against the Heat.
James had 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, while Bosh added 18 points and Wade 17 as the Heat shot 53.7 percent and committed just eight turnovers at New Jersey earlier this week. James has averaged 29.3 points on 51.1-percent shooting in his last 12 games against the Nets.
The star trio combined for 63 points, but Miami’s four-game winning streak was snapped with a 96-93 loss at undefeated New Orleans on Friday.
Wade had 28 points with 10 rebounds and James added 20 with 10 assists, but the Heat went 5 for 21 from 3-point range.
“One thing we have to continue to learn, that every time we step out on the basketball court no matter who we’re going against, we can’t just show up, you know, because we have this uniform on, because we have who we have on the court,” James said. “We have to play and it’s not about Xs and Os, it’s about the energy level.”
Wade, who had 12 points in the fourth quarter, averaged 28.0 in his last three home games versus New Jersey.
The Nets, 4-37 away from home last season, have lost 11 straight road games.