NEW YORK -- It took three games, but the Brooklyn Nets finally got some significant production out of their centers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Kevin Garnett and Andray Blatche, who struggled in Games 1 and 2, combined for 25 points and 17 rebounds in Brooklyn’s 104-90 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 3 on Saturday night at Barclays Center.
Garnett, who went scoreless for the first time in his playoff career in Game 1 and shot just 2-for-8 from the field in Game 2, scored 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds in 23 minutes.
Asked if he "stepped up" both offensively and defensively, Garnett, who admitted he wasn’t happy with his play after Game 2, said: "You have to understand, man, I just try to play my role as best as I can. You have to be aggressive, and tonight I thought I took my chances.
"I don’t know what that 'step up' comment meant. I don’t know if you just slid one in there or whatever, but it’s cool. It’s cool. I get it. I get it. I need that for fuel, but tonight I thought I was aggressive."
Blatche, who played just five minutes in Game 2 and came in averaging just two points and two rebounds against the Heat, scored 13 of his playoff career-high 15 points in the first half and became the first Nets reserve in 20 years to finish with a double-double (10 rebounds in 20 minutes).
"I wasn’t as being aggressive as I should’ve been [in Games 1 and 2]," Blatche said. "I came home and watched film with [big man coach] Roy [Rogers], and he just told me, 'Be more aggressive and score,' and that’s what I did."
Garnett (Game 2) and Blatche (Game 1) both missed critical interior shots that allowed the Heat to counter with huge runs and take a commanding 2-0 series lead. That wasn’t the case on Saturday night. After being outscored by an average of 13 points in the paint in the first two games, the Nets equaled the Heat by scoring 26 points in the paint in Game 3.
"It builds confidence," Garnett said of the team’s Game 3 victory. "We’re a confident group already, but we built on that tonight, and now, it’s just about taking care of home and making sure that we follow the game plan and do the things that Coach [Jason Kidd] wants us to do."