Miami topples N. Jersey, 108-105
The Heat have a 3-0 lead in the series.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The ball bounced Vince Carter's way. The game didn't.
One of the luckiest shots of Carter's career -- a shot that took five or six bounces off the backboard and rim before dropping through to force a second overtime -- couldn't keep the New Jersey Nets from losing 108-105 to the Miami Heat on Thursday night.
Carter's shot was something, a 21-footer from the corner that ricocheted every which way before going in. But it would end up being the final moment of magic for the Nets as they fell behind 3-0 in the best-of-7 series.
"I had missed a 3 earlier and I wanted another opportunity, and I got lucky," Carter said. "We were fortunate it gave us a new life."
But that life lasted only five more minutes, and the problem now confronting New Jersey is one that no NBA team has ever solved -- overcoming a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-7 series.
Miami can complete a sweep Sunday.
Shaquille O'Neal had his best game of the series with 25 points, Udonis Haslem had the final go-ahead basket among his 14 points and 19 rebounds, Dwyane Wade had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Eddie Jones added 20 points for the Heat.
Carter scored 36, Richard Jefferson had 23 and Jason Kidd had a triple-double of 16 points, 13 assists and 16 rebounds for the Nets, whose best chance to win came at the end of regulation when Kidd had an open shot from 3-point range.
But he couldn't connect, and Carter's crazy bounce only ended up prolonging the eventual loss. Haslem's putback made it 104-102 with 1:26 remaining, and a missed 3 by Clifford Robinson and a blown layup by Jefferson helped seal New Jersey's defeat.
The Nets were hurt by their 3-for-23 shooting from 3-point range and nine missed free throws in 27 attempts.
Miami went 10-for-22 on 3s to help overcome 16 missed foul shots in 38 attempts.
"Man, this team is very resilient," said Heat center Alonzo Mourning, who grabbed a key rebound late in the second overtime. "This just shows the toughness and character of this team in digging out a win like this."
Carter's corner jumper at the end of the first overtime rolled around the iron, bounced high off the glass, came down and bounced four more times on the rim before dropping through to tie the game at 99.
"I thought once it hit every piece of the rim and fell in, we had another opportunity, and anytime you have an opportunity like that against a team like Miami you have to take advantage of it," Kidd said.
Carter's shot came after Jones, normally a solid foul shooter, missed two free throws with 11.5 seconds remaining to leave the Nets just two points behind.
In double overtime, Haslem went to the line with 20.6 seconds left and made the first of two free throws to make it 105-102. After he missed the second, Mourning outfought Jason Collins for the rebound to allow the Heat to keep possession with a three-point lead.
The inbounds pass went to Wade, and the Heat sealed the victory from the line.
It was their sixth victory over New Jersey in as many tries this season, but this was the first time the Nets kept one of the games close.
"I know this is easy to say as the winning coach, but no one deserved to lose that game," Miami's Stan Van Gundy said.
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