BROOKLYN -- Thirteen straight times, the Brooklyn Nets had fallen short to the Miami Heat.
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were not around for any of those games but having battled the Heat in the postseason with the Boston Celtics, they were determined not to extend that losing streak for their new team.
Pierce scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half, helping the Nets build a double-digit lead before they withstood a furious Miami charge in the final three minutes and pulled out a 101-100 victory Friday night in its much anticipated home opener.
"I think we wanted this a little more," Garnett said. "No disrespect to the champs and what they are trying to accomplish this year, but we knew playing at home, coming from Cleveland that we would play better.
"We watched a lot of film and saw our mistakes, so we were locked into what we wanted to do and we played with that in mind through the whole game."
Pierce played 31 minutes, made 5-of-10 shots and went 8-of-8 from the foul line. His biggest plays of the night were a 19-foot jump shot with 6:13 remaining that put the Nets up 90-78 and an emphatic block on LeBron James a minute later.
"Whenever you are trying to establish something against the champs it's going to be like a playoff atmosphere," Pierce said. "KG really talked about that coming into the game. Expect it to be like the playoffs, don't expect anything to go our way because they are the team to beat. It's good that we got a taste of this type of atmosphere to see where we are at. Miami is the measuring stick for everybody so it was good to come out and get the win."
"I think it was (a statement game)," Nets center Brook Lopez said. "It's the defending world champs, you don't want to come out and be soft and give this one away. So we wanted to show we could come out and compete with them."
Joe Johnson, who also had 19 points, added a pair of 3-pointers to expand the lead to 96-84 with 2:47 left but then the Heat made their charge. They were within 96-94 on a 3-pointer by Mario Chalmers with 18 seconds left but could not complete the comeback
James led all scorers with 26 points and Dwyane Wade added 21 for Miami, which is under .500 for the second time since James and Chris Bosh joined the team in 2010.
"A little bit of unmotivated basketball I thought at the start," James said.
James scored his final points on a left corner 3-pointer that made it 99-98 with four seconds remaining but Johnson hit two free throws to push the edge to 101-98. Bosh made the free throw and when he sank the second, the Heat had no chance for the comeback and the Nets simply ran out the clock.
"We tried to make it a game at the end," Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It's pretty clear tonight we didn't play well. We didn't play consistently or how we need to play."
The game had a lot of hype for the budding rivalry with two preseason meetings that featured a few hard fouls, criticism from James about Garnett and Pierce going from Boston to the Nets. Garnett responded to James by telling him to mind his business and the MVP seemed to follow declining to discuss the Nets before and after the game.
"I am not commenting on any other team, OK," James said. "They won and they are 1-1 and we are 1-2."
The Nets trailed for just 88 seconds and turned a 47-47 halftime tie into an impressive third quarter showing. Pierce scored 11 points and the Nets took a 78-67 lead into the fourth quarter.
NOTES: Garnett played 26 minutes in the victory, leaving him seven behind Wilt Chamberlain for fifth place in career minutes in NBA history. ... Lopez's eight rebounds give him 2,405 for his career, passing Keith Van Horn for eighth place on the Nets' career rebounding list. ... Andrei Kirilenko was a game-time decision with back spasms but played 12 minutes and scored eight points. ... Wade remains seven blocks from breaking Dennis Johnson's career record for blocked shots by a player 6 feet 4 or shorter at 675. ... The Nets travel to take on Orlando on Sunday, and Miami returns home to face Washington. ... Joe Prunty coached the Nets as head coach Jason Kidd served the final game of a two-game suspension for a DWI last summer in the Hamptons.