Regular Season Series (Game 5 of 5)

Series starts 1/23

Game 1: Friday, January 23rd
Game 2: Wednesday, February 4th
Game 3: Saturday, February 28th
Game 4: Sunday, March 14th
Game 5: Wednesday, April 14th

Nets 84

(47-35, 19-22 away)

Heat 96

(42-40, 29-12 home)

    7:30 PM ET, April 14, 2004

    AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    NJ 26 14 16 2884
    MIA 23 23 31 1996

    Top Performers

    New Jersey: R. Rogers 13 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 4 Stl, 1 Blk

    Miami: C. Butler 22 Pts, 8 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl

    Butler scores 22; Heat earn winning record

    MIAMI (AP) -- Miami Heat players sat in the locker room Wednesday night and screamed at the TV, trying to steer their fate.

    To earn home-court advantage for their first playoff series in three years, they needed a Toronto victory over Milwaukee. And so when a 3-pointer by the Jalen Rose put the Raptors ahead with 5.2 seconds left, the Heat erupted.

    "J-Rose!" center Brian Grant shouted.

    "That's my dawg!" guard Dwyane Wade hollered.

    Moments later, Milwaukee's final shot missed, and Heat players swapped high-fives as though they'd won the game themselves. The Bucks' loss, coupled with Miami's 96-84 victory over New Jersey 30 minutes earlier, meant the Heat will open a best-of-seven series at home Sunday night against New Orleans.

    "That's what we came here tonight to do, and it went our way," guard Rafer Alston said. "We took care of our end, and Toronto took care of their end."

    The game was meaningless for the Nets, but they learned their first-round opponent: the rival New York Knicks, beginning Saturday in New Jersey.

    "It will be like a finals atmosphere because of the market," New Jersey guard Jason Kidd said. "A series like this comes down to the `X' factor, and somebody always steps up. Hopefully, it will be somebody on our team."

    The Nets have won 12 of their past 14 games against the Knicks.

    "None of that matters," forward Richard Jefferson said. "The playoffs are a completely different situation."

    If the Bucks had beaten Toronto, the Heat would have begun the playoffs in Milwaukee. Instead, they'll open at home -- a remarkable achievement for a team that started 0-7 and was 11 games below .500 on March 2.

    "I know we're moving on to something more important," first-year coach Stan Van Gundy said. "But I congratulated our guys very sincerely. It's a great accomplishment to come from where they did."

    By winning 17 of their last 21 games, the Heat finished 42-40 -- their first winning record in three seasons. They had lost 103 games the past two years.

    "I'm proud of our guys and the way we were able to finish the season," forward Lamar Odom said. "It's a statement for our team."

    Caron Butler scored 22 points for the Heat, who extended their home winning streak to 12 games and won the season series against New Jersey 3-2.

    Jefferson scored 18 points in 21 minutes for the Nets. They lost seven of their final 12 games.

    "It's time to switch gears and up our level of play," forward Kenyon Martin said.

    The Heat sank eight consecutive shots, with Wade scoring twice and assisting on three baskets, to take a 61-44 lead in the third quarter. Butler scored 14 points in the period and finished with eight rebounds.

    Heat guard Eddie Jones bruised his tailbone taking a tumble after being fouled late in the third quarter. He went to the locker room for treatment during the fourth quarter but said he expects to be fine.

    And he had a message for Jalen Rose: "Thanks a lot, man."

    Game notes

    Nets reserve F Brian Scalabrine sat out after straining his left hamstring in Monday's game. He's scheduled to undergo an MRI on Thursday. ... Alston sank a 3-pointer in his 48th consecutive game, a team record and the longest active streak in the NBA. ... Jefferson and Kerry Kittles started all 82 games. ... Kidd, who led the NBA in assists for the second consecutive season, had three to finish with an average of 9.2. ... Jones edged Odom to lead the Heat in scoring for the fourth season in a row.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 84 96
    FGM-FGA 30-83 (.361) 35-70 (.500)
    3PM-3PA 5-17 (.294) 5-15 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 19-27 (.704) 21-28 (.750)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 18-42 9-38
    Assists 19 23
    Turnovers 20 22
    Steals 16 11
    Blocks 2 5
    Fast Break Points 5 5
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (0/1) 19 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    New Jersey
    Rodney Rogers Rogers
    Points: 13
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 1
    Caron Butler Butler
    Points: 22
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0