MIAMI—With each miss Thursday night, the crowd's chants of "Let's Go Heat" and then "Seven Nation Army" grew louder, more menacing. Not since LeBron James signed with their franchise had they savored his mistakes so much.
"I missed five or six straight shots," James said, smiling, as he could after a 94-82 victory that gave the Heat a 2-0 series lead over the Brooklyn Nets.
Actually, it was merely three misses during that sequence, two fallaway turnaround jumpers over Shaun Livingston—one that clanked short and one that drifted right and long—and then a lefty layup that rolled off the rim. Yet each time during this 100-second possession, the ball made its way back to him, until his layup put his team ahead 10 with 1:59 left.
"It was hustle on everybody's part," Ray Allen said.
It was the most passionate Heat possession since the one that finished in Allen's miracle corner shot, 322 nights earlier on the other end of the floor. It was the possession during which the Heat grabbed half of their offensive rebound total for the entire game, with all of James' four teammates on the floor playing some part. It was the possession during which the Heat showed that even if the Nets keep them from running in transition, they can't keep them from outrunning them in the half court and, in this case, doing so to essentially run out the clock.
It was the possession that provided the strongest signal yet that Miami has shaken out of its regular-season sleepwalk.
"We come out there and we put it all out there, we leave it all out there, when it's time," Bosh said. "You know how it is in the playoffs. It's not the same as the regular season. The regular season, man, there's a tomorrow. There's no tomorrow right now. And if we don't get that sense, they might have won that game."
"I thought we had our chances, we definitely had our chances," said Nets forward Kevin Garnett after going 2-for-8, giving him just four points in the series. "We just couldn't get a rebound, second-chance points, but we definitely had our opportunities."
They had three chances to end that possession and couldn't.
"That one hurt," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "Again, we were right there."
They had been closer earlier, trailing by just two after three quarters. But the Heat, "moving a lot more and moving their defense," had stretched it to 10 before the Nets' Mirza Teletovic—whose 20 points were 20 more than teammate Deron Williams—made a layup with 3:39 remaining.
That's when strange things started happening, though things that Allen said were somewhat by design.
"First, offensively, we had great space," Allen said. "So they couldn't plug the gaps, and we got the shots we wanted. And when their paint was open, we just kind of crashed down, and the ball was going all over the place. For the most part, our energy, we had great motor tonight, where nobody was standing around."
Allen had a far different role in the constructive chaos than he did back in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, when he was the recipient of a Bosh pass off an offensive rebound. This time, Allen, sensing James' first miss, darted from well behind the three-point line and past three Nets, securing the scraps and restarting the shot clock.
"I knew LeBron was going to have to get up a 911 shot, and everybody was watching," Allen said. "And you figure, 'Hey, he's not going to make that,' if you're on the other team. But I said, 'Well, let me get underneath the basket and try to make something happen.' A lot of times I run, but I was just fortunate that it fell in my hands. If I was taller, I would have dunked it back in."
Instead, James would get his second turnaround try. This time, Dwyane Wade, curling behind the baseline, reached back with his right hand and knocked it back to half court, where Mario Chalmers reached out with his left hand to save it for Allen.
"Just trying to make something happen," Wade said. "The biggest thing was to give us more life."
Allen handed the ball back to Chalmers, who gave it up top to James, who breezed past Livingston into the paint.
Bosh saw Wade crashing the boards.
"I had in mind to get back on defense," he said. "But when you have help, it's a little easier."
Wade reached up with his right hand but couldn't control it. So it came out to Bosh, who bounced it hard to keep it from Deron Williams, then fired a soccer throw-in back to Chalmers, who handed to Wade.
"The ball can get funny sometimes," Bosh said.
The game can be funny too, such as when a 1-of-4 possession for James is seen as a rousing success. But this one was, with James and Wade finally pulling the 2-3 pick-and-roll from their trick bag.
"I knew they had been switching pick-and-rolls the whole time, so I kind of slipped out of there, and D-Wade put it right on the money, right over the top," James said. "And I was able to put us up 10."
Up 10, into a timeout.
Up 12 at the final buzzer.
Up 2-0 in the series, headed to Brooklyn.
Woken up after a season of slumber.
"Yeah, for sure," Bosh said. "For sure. I hope everybody can tell that."
You saw it all in 100 seconds.