The prospect of a short series seemed to be in the offing after LeBron James made six of his first seven shots in Game 3.
There was a takeover Saturday night but it did not come from James.
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Instead it came from the Nets in the form of efficient ball movement and a record-setting night of postseason 3-point shooting, leading to a 104-90 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Game 4 is Monday night at 8 p.m.
“We weren’t going to panic,” Paul Pierce said. “We wanted to show we’re not scared of them.”
Though James had 28 points, he missed six of his final eight shots after getting 16 in the first quarter and the Nets outscored the Heat 64-55 over the final 30:25.
“On the positive side when he was off to the quick start, their other guys weren’t touching the ball,” Pierce said. “We got to be able to limit those other guys. You know LeBron is going to be LeBron. He’s going to get his touches and he’s going to get his shots.”
“They just played a better game than us tonight, obviously,” James said. “We made some mistakes that we can clean up kind of just replaying the game in my mind some, but also understanding that this is a series.”
While the James takeover never developed, neither did a dominant game from Deron Williams, at least in terms of points.
Miami’s game plan was to constantly harass Williams, much like they did in Game 2 when he went 0-of-9 and had his first career scoreless playoff game. Williams didn’t shoot well, going 3-of-11, but he had 11 assists — nine coming on 3-pointers.
“The way they’re playing me they’re putting two on the ball when I come off,” Williams said. “I need to make the right plays and get people the ball and I think I did that.”
The Nets made 15-of-25 3-pointers, including 9-of-14 in the second half when they used a 26-14 third quarter to begin the process of surging ahead. They had eight of their 26 assists in the decisive third quarter.
Joe Johnson had five 3-pointers and 19 points, while Mirza Teletovic added four 3-pointers for 12 points. Teletovic had three 3-pointers as the Nets expanded a 51-49 halftime lead to 77-63 after three quarters and eventually 95-75 when Pierce hit a 3-pointer with about 4 1/2 minutes remaining.
“I thought the thing that was big was ball movement,” Johnson said. “Us getting into the teeth of their defense and [kicking] it out for wide open shots, those were the biggest keys.”
“Defensively we made them take shots that we wanted them to take taking away some of the guys that were big in the first two games — Ray Allen, [Mario] Chalmers, Rashard Lewis,” Shaun Livingston said. “That was big for us.”
Allen was 2-for-6, after shooting 11-for-18 in the first two games. Chalmers was limited to three points after scoring 23 in the first two games.
“It’s a 48-minute game,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “I’m not counting how many times you score, I’m looking at the shots that [James was] taking and he was making them in the first quarter. We didn’t lose patience and we stuck with the game plan and we found a way to win.”
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.