MIAMI — Joe Johnson scored 19 points, Mason Plumlee was credited with a block on LeBron James’ dunk attempt in the final seconds, and the Brooklyn Nets finished off a four-game season sweep of Miami by beating the Heat 88-87 on Tuesday night.
It was the third time Brooklyn beat Miami by a single point; the other win came in double-overtime.
Marcus Thornton scored 16 points and Paul Pierce added 14 for the Nets, who became the first team in the last two years to sweep the Heat. Miami was the only team in the league to beat every team last season and would have repeated that feat with a win Tuesday.
James had 29 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Heat, who remained a half-game ahead of Indiana, and one in the loss column, in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Chris Bosh scored 12 and Norris Cole added 10 for Miami.
Up by one, Johnson took a jumper that was way off with 11 seconds left. Miami controlled the rebound and the ball was sent to James, who attacked the rim and went up for a dunk that Plumlee contested.
The Heat argued for a foul, none was called and time expired.
Thornton’s steal and layup with 3:27 left put the Nets up one, before James answered seconds later with a dunk, part of a final quarter that featured seven lead changes.
Deron Williams missed a pair of free throws with 2:17 left and Brooklyn down a point, but Plumlee blocked Bosh’s layup on the next Miami possession — and the Nets seemed to get a shot of needed adrenalin. Thornton hit a 3 from the right corner to put the Nets on top, Johnson followed with a beat-the-shot-clock score from the lane, and Brooklyn was suddenly up four with 1:01 left.
A mere 5½ seconds later, the lead was down to one.
James drove past Johnson and got fouled by Pierce on the way to a three-point play, getting Miami within 86-85. The teams alternated baskets on their next possessions, but the Nets wouldn’t trail again.
Miami’s Dwyane Wade missed his seventh straight game while dealing with a hamstring issue — his 26th absence overall this season for the Heat, who were also without Greg Oden (back spasms) and Udonis Haslem (stomach virus).
Brooklyn decided to play without Kevin Garnett, who is expected to be in the lineup when the Nets visit Orlando on Wednesday. Garnett missed 19 games while dealing with back issues, then returned to the Nets’ lineup on Saturday and played 13 minutes against Philadelphia. Andray Blatche (illness) was also held out by the Nets.
For the second straight game, the Heat got into an early double-digit deficit at home — trailing 26-14 after the first period and seeing the hole reach 13 early in the second quarter. Fueled by 18 second-quarter points by reserves, Miami chipped away and outscored Brooklyn 17-9 over the final 5:40 of the half, facing only a 44-43 deficit at the break.
Toney Douglas’ 3-pointer midway through the third put Miami on top for the first time since the early going — with that, the back-and-forth was officially underway. Neither team led by more than four the rest of the way, and James had the last two baskets of the third to put Miami up 65-62 heading into the final period.