NEW YORK -- Postseason perfection turned into a sobering reality of Brooklyn Nets 3-point shots and rebounding dominance Saturday night for the Miami Heat at Barclays Center.
"To sum it up," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, "they outplayed us. They outplayed us in that whole second half."
Undefeated in the first six games of these playoffs and without a fourth-quarter deficit in the first two games of this series entering this one, the Heat's lead in this best-of-seven NBA Eastern Conference semifinal was trimmed to 2-1 with an over-the-top effort by the Nets in a 104-90 victory.
"We have respect for our opponent," Spoelstra said, "they're very capable."
Beyond 16 first-quarter points from forward LeBron James, there was little of consistency from the Heat.
The Nets, by contrast, loaded up on 3-pointers from Joe Johnson, Mirza Teletovic, Paul Pierce and Alan Anderson, Brooklyn's ball movement consistently putting the Heat's defense in scramble mode.
The Nets closed 15 of 25 on three-pointers, set a franchise postseason record for conversions.
"They got in a great rhythm, and even their inside-the-three shots were open," Spoelstra said, with the Nets closing at .528 from the field.
And when the Nets missed, there was an overall 43-27 advantage on the boards.
"We just have to step up those multiple efforts," Spoelstra said.
James led the Heat with 28 points, with guard Dwyane Wade adding 20, the two the only Heat players to score in the disastrous third quarter.
"The third quarter was an awful quarter for us," Wade said. "We've got to play better."
The Heat closed with 13 assists.
"Thirteen assists," Spoelstra said, "will not get it done."
Johnson led the Nets with 19, with Brooklyn backup center Andray Blatche scoring 15 and adding 10 rebounds.
"Every game in this series is going to be different," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "Tonight, guys all were on the same page, executing the game plan."
Blatche became the first Nets' player since Armen Gilliam in 1994 to record a playoff double-double off the bench. Nets point guard Deron Williams added a career-playoff-high 11 assists.
"We were in a good enough flow in the first half," Spoelstra said, "then really tried to win the game more offensively in the second half, and they got virtually everything."
With the Nets shooting 4 of 6 on 3-pointers in the third period while the Heat was 1 of 8 from beyond the arc over those 12 minutes, Brooklyn outscored the Heat 26-14 in the quarter. Beyond eight points from Wade and six from James, no other Heat player scored in the third.
"They have guys that can knock down shots and they moved the ball well," Spoelstra said.
Game 4 is Monday at Barclays Center, with a Game 5 now necessary for Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, either at 7 p.m. or 8 p.m., depending on the length of the Portland Trail Blazers-San Antonio Spurs series.
Kidd expects a spirited response from the Heat.
"You're not going to surprise the champs," he said, "they've seen everything."
The winner of this series faces the winner of the Indiana Pacers-Washington Wizards series, which Indiana lead 2-1.
The Heat have won at least one road game in 13 consecutive series, trying an NBA record, winning twice in Charlotte in the opening-round 4-0 sweep of the Bobcats. They will need one Monday to avoid having to return to Brooklyn for a Friday Game 6.
"It was a team down 0-2 playing inspired basketball and a team up 2-0 not matching that energy," Heat forward Shane Battier summed up Saturday's effort.
The Nets dominated the third quarter, with the second of consecutive 3-pointers from Teletovic pushing them to a 74-61 lead with 2:29 left in the period, which ended with Brooklyn up 77-63.
While the Heat struggled to get anything but forced jumpers in the quarter, the Nets began whipping the ball around the perimeter, putting the Heat's defense on the defensive, even with Pierce called for his fourth foul less than four minutes into the third period.
The Nets led 51-49 at halftime, with Blatche scoring 13 points over the opening two periods, a figure that already matched his career playoff high. James had 18 for the Heat at halftime, but only two in the second period.
"We didn't lose patience," Kidd said on the defense against James.
It was a sloppy first half for the Heat, with eight turnovers over the opening two periods.
James came out on a mission that included a pair of first-quarter 3-pointers and a first-period and-one than included a flagrant foul on Pierce.
But even with James closing the opening period with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, the Heat went into the second quarter up only 30-29, with Blatche scoring seven off the bench in the period for the Nets.
The Nets yet again ended a period with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, this time with Nets guard Shaun Livingston doing it with a 36-foot heave at the end of the first.
The Heat put together a 10-0 run to take an early five-point lead, before the Nets came back with a 7-0 run later in the first quarter.
The first quarter marked the first time the Nets scored more than 25 points in any quarter in the series.
The 16-point first quarter was James' highest-scoring quarter of these playoffs. His previous high was 12.
After not scoring in Game 2, Nets point guard Deron Williams opened Saturday's scoring with a six-foot jumper 28 seconds in, his only points of the first period. After hitting his first shot, Williams then missed his next five.
The game marked the Nets' first home second-round game since May 12, 2007 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Heat entered with similarities from the first two games, with James with 22 points in each of the first two and Wade with 14 in each of the first two. Pierce had scored a combined 21 points in the first two games.
The Heat were coming off Thursday's 94-82 victory at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Heat also entered tied for the franchise record of eight consecutive playoff victories, dating to the final two games of the 2013 NBA Finals. They previously won eight consecutive playoff games in 2005 and bridging the 2012-13 postseasons.
(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services