Heat handle Nets to clinch Southeast Division title

Posted: 04/04/2011 in NBA

Heat win to clinch division title


eBron James finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds, leading the Heat to a 108-94 victory over the Nets that helped them clinch the Southeast Division title.

Miami secured the division with the victory and Orlando’s loss at Toronto on Sunday and also closed within 2 1/2 games of idle Chicago for first place in the Eastern Conference, though the Bulls have a game in hand.

“We’ll take whatever we can get right now,” said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. “That’s the first step. It’s not our ultimate goal, but we want to gobble up as many of those things as possible.”

Dwyane Wade, who left the game briefly because of a thigh contusion, added 18 points in Miami’s third consecutive win.

Deron Williams had 18 points and 12 assists for the Nets, who have dropped six in a row and 10 of 11.

“We definitely had some makeable shots, but I thought they were rushed and quick,” Williams said. “They got out in transition, and they got layup after layup. They’re tough to beat when they’re doing that.”

Miami took control in a dominant first quarter, when it made 15-of-20 field goals and nearly doubled New Jersey’s point total. James did most of the damage by netting 15 points, including nine in a row early in the frame.

James’ personal run was part of a larger 13-0 stretch that put the Heat ahead 17-4.

They led 26-10 after Wade drilled a three with 4:46 remaining, and carried a 32-18 advantage into the second quarter. Miami continued to roll, expanding its lead as high as 21 before going into the break with a 58-44 advantage.

The Heat never trailed again, though New Jersey trimmed its deficit to single digits multiple times in the third quarter. The Nets were within striking distance after Williams closed the period with a jumper, making it a 77-69 contest.

They got within six several minutes into the fourth, but a Chris Bosh hook shot and James Jones three gave Miami an 88-77 cushion with 6:49 to go.

The Heat led by at least 10 the rest of the way, cruising to a win that helped secure their first division title since 2006-07.

– Steve


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