Shorthanded Nets burn the Heat in Miami
'Bench Mob' shines as Brooklyn rallies to even record at 2-2
The Nets took the hardwood in Miami Wednesday night with a roster full of no-names.
The result was a marquee-worthy performance that evened Brooklyn’s record at 2-2.
Armoni Brooks, flown in from the team’s G-League affiliate on Long Island Tuesday, scored 17 points off the bench and so did fellow reserve Lonnie Walker IV, lifting the Nets to a come-from-behind 109-105 victory over the Heat in front of 19,600 fans at the Kaseya Center.
“That’s the best part of basketball, showing up with who you have and staying together as a team and pulling out a victory on the road against a really good team,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said.
Brooklyn was without starters Cam Johnson (calf), Nic Claxton (ankle) and Spencer Dinwiddie (ankle) due to injuries.
Though Mikal Bridges led the way with a team-high 21 points, the Nets found themselves down by as many as 15 in the second half before reeling the struggling Heat (1-4) back in.
Down 75-60 with 4 1/2 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Brooklyn went on a 38-17 surge spanning the final two periods to take a 98-92 lead on a made free throw by Walker IV.
Jimmy Butler’s dunk drew the Heat back within one a minute later, but Bridges completed a three-point play and fed Dorian Finney-Smith for a layup with 59 ticks left to give the Nets a 103-99 advantage.
Bridges followed with a short jumper and added a pair of free throws down the stretch as Brooklyn improved to 2-1 on its four-game road trip, which ends Friday night in Chicago.
Brooks, who hadn’t played in the NBA since the 2021-22 season as a member of the Toronto Raptors, looked like a seasoned veteran. He went 6-of-7 from the floor, 5-of-6 at the line and grabbed a pair of rebounds in 16 minutes of court time.
“Landed about 7 o’clock last night, went to shootaround and prepped ourselves to get ready to play,” Brooks told the Associated Press about his surprise call-up.
Power forward Trendon Watford added to Brooklyn’s “Bench Mob” revival, scoring 11 points, grabbing four rebounds and handing out four assists in 14 minutes as the Nets’ reserves outscored Miami’s back-ups, 50-26.
Walker grinded his way to a 4-of-9 shooting performance and went 8-of-11 at the line as Brooklyn edged Miami on the boards, 47-46, to outrebound its opponent for the fourth time in as many games to begin the campaign.
The only blip on the radar in the otherwise rousing win was the end of Cam Thomas’ historic scoring streak. The third-year guard failed to reach the 30-point plateau for the first time this year, finishing with 13 points on 4-of-19 shooting.
Tyler Herro scored a game-high 30 points, Bam Adebayo added 21 and 14 rebounds and Butler finished with 20 points for the Heat, who have lost four in a row since winning their home opener.
“We certainly have to sustain,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra lamented. “We have to find a way to sustain it more consistently, and better, and that’s what we’re focused on. … We just have to be better at sustaining our game.”
The Nets will begin their portion of the NBA’s newly installed in-season tournament against the Bulls Friday before returning to Downtown Brooklyn Saturday to open a three-game homestand vs. Boston.
NOTHING BUT NET: Ben Simmons, the Nets’ leading rebounder thus far this year, grabbed a team-high 11 boards vs. the Heat. The point guard also had four points and five assists. … With their roster depleted, the Nets signed guard Keon Johnson to a two-way contract Wednesday. … Claxton continues to be evaluated and could rejoin the team soon, Cam Johnson will be reevaluated next week and Dinwiddie remains listed as day-to-day with the ankle injury he suffered in Dallas on Monday. … After hosting the Celtics Saturday, the Nets will also welcome Milwaukee to Barclays Center on Monday and the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday.
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