- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets made an early-season statement on Friday night at Barclays Center -- and ended several losing streaks in the process.
The Nets came into Friday night's matchup against the two-time defending champion Heat having lost 17 straight to LeBron James and 13 straight to Miami. In fact, the Nets were 0-9 against James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, having lost those games by an average of 17.3 points.
Deron Williams said during an ESPN "SportsCenter" conversation that he didn't feel like the Nets were capable of beating the Heat last season. But with the additions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko, Jason Terry, Alan Anderson and Shaun Livingston, Williams' opinion changed.
The franchise point guard had become a believer, and that belief paid off in the form of a 101-100 victory over the Heat, a heart-stopping victory that showed the Nets are here -- and they have title aspirations on their minds.
"We beat them," Williams said with a smile. "We feel like when we step on the floor we can beat anybody. That's the mentality you have to have going into every game, and that's the mentality we're going to continue to have."
The Nets (1-1), who led by as many as 16 in the third quarter, nearly blew a 12-point lead with 2:47 left. But with the Heat on the verge of pulling off a stunning come-from-behind win, Pierce and Joe Johnson, who each finished with 19 points, hit several clutch shots and free throws down the stretch, as Brooklyn beat Miami for the first time since March 20, 2009.
"I think we wanted this a little bit more," Garnett said. "No disrespect to the champs and what they are trying to accomplish this year, but we knew playing at home, coming from Cleveland that we would play better."
And they did so unselfishly. None of their 11 rotation players logged more than 31 minutes. It was truly a team effort. The Nets might have a $190 million roster that features six All-Stars, but they all sacrificed individual statistics on Friday night, and got a W in return.
"We have a great group that is going to play for each other," Williams said. "That's what good teams do. They're selfless. They don't care about who gets to shine, and that's how we're gonna play."
If they do so for the next 80 games, they'll be in really good shape heading into the playoffs. James wound up scoring 13 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth, but it was too little, too late.
The Nets had done just enough to get it done.
"We wanted to come out and show them we could compete with them," Brook Lopez said.
They did more than compete. They won. And erased a lot of bad history in the process.
Williams said he had no idea of the Nets' futility against the Heat until he saw their losing streaks scroll across the television he was watching.
"I don't think I was here for all of them, so I didn't know," Williams joked. "You don't want to have those losing streaks to any franchise, so it was definitely on our minds."
Well, not everyone's.
"I'm 1-0 against them," Terry said.
New faces. New attitude. Better results.
6dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann