Brooklyn, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The Brooklyn Nets' veteran cast responded brilliantly in a virtual must-win situation to put the Miami Heat on the ropes for the first time in this year's playoffs.
Joe Johnson led a balanced offensive attack with 19 points, but it was the Nets' defense that sparked a third-quarter run which fueled a 104-90 victory over the two-time defending champion Heat in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Brooklyn held Miami to a 5-of-19 shooting rate while outscoring the Heat 26-14 in the third quarter, turning a two-point game at the half into a commanding 77-63 lead entering the fourth.
The Nets also got a strong effort from the bench in cutting their series deficit to 2-1 and ending the Heat's eight-game win streak in postseason play. Andray Blatche racked up 15 points and 10 rebounds in just 20 minutes, while Mirza Teletovic added 12 points and sunk a trio of 3-pointers during the pivotal third quarter.
Brooklyn finished 15-of-25 from beyond the arc for the contest, with Johnson hitting 5-of-7 long-range attempts.
"Tonight was the type of urgency we're going to need for the rest of the series," Nets forward Paul Pierce said.
LeBron James scored 28 points for Miami, but only 12 came after the opening period. Dwyane Wade, the only Heat player to consistently hit shots in the third quarter, ended with 20.
"They outplayed us, particularly in that whole second half," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Brooklyn will attempt to even this best-of-seven set when it hosts Game 4 at the Barclays Center on Monday.
Clinging to a 51-49 halftime lead and a 59-56 edge five minutes into the third quarter, the Nets clamped down on both James and Chris Bosh to begin to separate.
Teletovic buried a trey that ignited a 9-0 run in which the Heat missed five straight from the field, then hit two more threes on consecutive possessions later in the frame to extend the margin to 74-61. Deron Williams, coming off a scoreless performance in Thursday's 94-82 Game 2 loss in Miami, followed with a triple of his own to make it a 16-point spread entering the stanza's final minute.
James was just 1-of-5 from the floor for the quarter, while the Heat misfired on 7-of-8 tries from beyond the arc for the period. The Nets were 4-of-6 from 3-point range.
The fourth quarter, during which Brooklyn was up by as many as 20 points, was uneventful save for an on-floor scrum between Miami's Ray Allen and the Nets' Alan Anderson that resulted in technicals for both.
Both James and his team were on fire early on, with the four-time MVP pouring in 16 points on a 6-of-7 success rate during a first quarter in which the Heat shot 64.7 percent.
James accounted for the first six points of a 10-0 surge that put Miami up 20-15 just past the midway mark of the opening frame, though a contested 36- footer at the buzzer by Shaun Livingston brought the Nets within 30-39 heading into the second.
Neither side was ahead by more than five points during a second quarter which concluded with Wade knocking down a tie-breaking short jumper with 19.7 seconds left to cut Brooklyn's lead to two.