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Miami starts 4-0 at home in routing Nets

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- The Brooklyn Nets have the second-biggest payroll in the NBA, but the team that was on the money Wednesday night was the Miami Heat.

Miami, playing its most complete game of the season, defeated the Nets, 103-73, to raise its record to 4-1. It's also the first time in franchise history that the Heat has started a season 4-0 at home.

The Heat have now beaten the Nets 11 consecutive times, and much of the credit Wednesday goes to LeBron James, who nearly had a triple-double with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists in 30 minutes.

Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said James, who did not have a triple-double last season, could have had one Wednesday had he been looking to get his own numbers.

"I didn't know he was close to (a triple-double), but that was not the time to put him back in the game," Spoelstra said. "He could have had 12 assists if he (were) thinking about ego and stats. But he wasn't. He was thinking about what's best for the team."

Spoelstra said James had some "hockey assists" in which he had the pass that led to the pass that led to the bucket.

"He probably had 3, 4 or 5 hockey assists," Spoelstra said. "This was one of the highest-IQ games he's ever played in the regular season. That's how fast his mind is working."

As good as the Heat stars are -- James and Dwyane Wade, who had a game-high 22 points -- their payroll is only fourth in the NBA.

The top payroll in the league belongs to the Lakers, followed by Brooklyn with its All-Star backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson and its highly compensated center, Brook Lopez.

But instead of a high-powered shootout between two star-powered teams, the Heat dominated Wednesday's game by playing getting out on the fast break and playing tough defense.

The Heat leads the league in scoring and has totaled at least 100 points in four of their five games. They shot 51.9 percent on Wednesday and had a 17-6 edge in fast-break points.

But Spoelstra was even happier with his defense, which entered the game ranked 25th in points allowed. On Wednesday, they had their season low in points allowed and held the Nets to 37.5 percent shooting.

"For the most part," Spoelstra said, "we were committed on (defense) for the second game in a row. We are slowly regaining our identity."

The Heat also forced 19 turnovers.

"If we continue to play defense like that," Wade said, "that's what's going to win us games."

Brooklyn, which was coming off a game in which they blew a 22-point third-quarter lead at home, was virtually done after three quarters on Wednesday, trailing 79-56.

For the game, the taller Nets had a 46-34 lead in points in the paint. But Nets Coach Avery Johnson said the Heat's speed created mismatches.

"Hopefully the next time we play them," he said, "we can put on a better performance than what we did tonight."

Williams led the Nets with 14 points, but he was forced into seven turnovers. Johnson had nine points but made just 4 of 14 shots. Lopez had eight points. Kris Humphries had 11 points and 11 rebounds, but almost all of that production came in the first quarter.

Humphries said the Nets' defense was an issue Wednesday.

"Help defense is great," he said, "but we have to individually be able to stop people from getting into the paint and sticking to our principles once they break us down."

The Nets trailed 50-41 in the first half after James had an 11-point first quarter and Wade had a 12-point second quarter. Humphries had nine points and seven rebounds in the first quarter but did little after that.

"I thought we did a pretty good job in the first half," Humphries said. "But in the second half, when great teams come out in the third quarter -- that's the make or break right there and they broke us."

NOTES: Starting Nets small forward Gerald Wallace missed his second game in a row because of an injured ankle. Wallace is considered the Nets' best individual defender and most intense competitor. He has averaged 14 points or more for seven straight seasons. ... Next up for the Heat is a six-game road trip that begins Friday in Atlanta. The Heat returns home Nov. 21 against the Bucks. ... The Nets will play Friday at Orlando.

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