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Heat edge Nets to advance to ECF for 4th straight year
Miami, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - After clamping down on Joe Johnson in the final 4.4 seconds, LeBron James stood atop the scorer's table and pumped his fist.
The Miami Heat are back in the Eastern Conference finals for a fourth straight year.
James netted 20 of his 29 points in the second half and the Heat beat the Brooklyn Nets, 96-94, on Wednesday in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.
Miami closed the game on a 13-3 run after trailing 91-83 with 4:49 to play. Ray Allen hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 32 seconds remaining to highlight the surge.
"We say this a lot, but we're excited he's on our side," James said of Allen.
James sunk 1-of-2 free throws to put the Heat up two with 9.5 ticks to go and Brooklyn never got a potentially game-tying or go-ahead shot up.
"Our guys were the strongest when we were down at the end," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said.
James knocked the ball away from Paul Pierce along the left wing, but it stayed with the Nets following a replay. Allen's help defense knocked the ball away from Johnson as he made a move into the paint and never got a shot up over James.
Miami will clash with either the fifth-seeded Washington Wizards or top-seeded Indiana Pacers in the East Finals. Indiana leads that Eastern Conference semifinal series 3-2.
This is the sixth trip to the conference finals in the last 10 years for the Heat, who will vie to become the third franchise to advance to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight year. The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers also accomplished the feat.
Dwyane Wade had 28 points and Chris Bosh added 16 in the triumph.
Miami finished 9-of-29 (31 percent) from beyond the arc and was just 1-of-16 from 3-point range in the first half.
Johnson scored 34 points to go with seven rebounds, Pierce provided 19 and Deron Williams had 17 for Brooklyn, which swept the Heat during the regular season.
"Give the Heat credit, they were attacking there in the fourth quarter," Nets head coach Jason Kidd said. "They made plays, they made shots and we didn't."
Johnson's step-back jumper with 4:49 to play staked Brooklyn to its eight- point cushion, but it didn't tally another point until a Johnson triple got the Nets within 95-94 with 11.4 ticks left.
In between, James nailed a trey and Wade hit a tough left baseline fadeaway before James knocked down a pair of free throws to whittle the deficit to 91-90 with 1:12 on the clock.
Allen's stepback 3-pointer from the left corner gave the Heat their first lead since it was 42-41 with 3:02 to go in the second.
Shaun Livingston backed Wade down in the paint at the other end, but his shot off the glass was too strong and two Allen foul shots extended Miami's advantage to 95-91 with 21.6 ticks on the clock.
Earlier, Pierce put in seven quick points as the Nets raced out to an early 11-4 lead, but Miami countered as Wade netted the final six points during a 10-2 flurry for a 14-13 edge.
Allen hit a pair of foul shots with 0.7 seconds left in the frame to give the hosts a 23-22 lead after a quarter of play. Wade had 12 points in the stanza.
Brooklyn scored the final eight points of the half. Johnson's driving layup with three ticks left gave the Nets a 49-42 advantage.
Bosh's triple concluded a mini 7-0 burst to begin the third before Brooklyn answered back with seven in a row, with a Johnson 3-pointer staking it to a 56-49 spread.
The Nets led 75-66 after three.
James is heading to the conference finals for the sixth time in eight years, with his first two appearances coming with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007 and 2009 ... Miami shot 43.3 percent (29-of-67) from the field and 93.5 percent (29-of-31) from the foul line ... Brooklyn shot 47.4 percent (37-of-78) from the floor.
05/14 23:30:07 ET
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