Photo: Miami Heat
LeBron James let his game do the talking after some brash comments by a Brooklyn Nets player, leading his defending-champion Miami Heat to a 105-85 road victory over the New York City team at the Barclays Center.
The reigning league MVP was handed some bulletin-board material before Wednesday night’s contest by Nets journeyman power forward Reggie Evans, who said the Heat’s championship in the 2011-12 season was tainted because it came in a lockout-shortened season.
James responded with a typical all-around effort, scoring 24 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out seven assists, and then waited until after the game to fire back verbally at the Nets.
“You can’t just come out and say something like that versus a champion,” James said. “No one knows what it takes unless you’ve done it. You can’t sit here and judge and talk about a team winning a championship unless you’ve done it. (Evans) hasn’t done it.”
The Heat star also criticized the Nets players for not playing hard for former coach Avery Johnson, who was fired in late December after the team’s record fell to 14-14.
Brooklyn has fared much better under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, but James said the only difference is that the team is giving more effort and lamented that “Avery had to take the hit of them not wanting to play at a high level.”
Dwyane Wade added 21 points for the Heat, who turned a tie game at halftime into a rout by outscoring the Nets 36-14 in the third quarter.
The Heat were on fire from 3-point range, with James making 3-of-4 shots from that distance and Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis each going 2-for-3.
Center Brook Lopez scored 21 points for Brooklyn, whose record fell to 27-19. Miami’s record improved to 29-13, tops in the Eastern Conference.
In other NBA action Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers stumbled to their eighth straight road loss, falling 92-86 to the lowly Phoenix Suns despite leading by 10 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Indiana Pacers trounced the Detroit Pistons 98-79, the Philadelphia 76ers topped the Washington Wizards 92-84, the Atlanta Hawks edged the Toronto Raptors 93-92, and the New York Knicks routed the Orlando Magic 113-97.
The Boston Celtics cruised past the Sacramento Kings 99-81, the L.A. Clippers defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 96-90, the Chicago Bulls continued their strong run of form with a 104-88 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, the San Antonio Spurs pummeled the Charlotte Bobcats 102-78, the Utah Jazz topped the New Orleans Hornets 104-99, and the Denver Nuggets defeated the Houston Rockets 118-110.