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Joe Johnson #7 of the Brooklyn Nets drives around Jeff Green #8 of the Boston Celtics at the Barclays Center on Nov 15, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Nets defeated the Celtics 102-97. (AFP)
Heat claim rare road victory in Denver Knicks stop Spurs to remain unbeaten

DENVER, Nov 16, (Agencies): The defending champion Miami Heat claimed a rare road win over the Denver Nuggets 98-93 on Thursday despite being without the services of eight-times All-Star Dwayne Wade.
The Heat led throughout but needed to survive a late Nuggets rally to claim a first victory in Denver since January 2002. Despite trailing by as many as 19 points on the night, the Nuggets (4-5) were just one behind with 65 seconds remaining but Danilo Gallinari’s wide-open three-point shot fell woefully short. Norris Cole then stuck a dagger in the home fans heart by nailing a triple of his own just 14 seconds later. Wade sat out the contest at the Pepsi Center in Denver after spraining his left foot earlier this week against the Los Angeles Clippers but the Heat overcame his absence to move to 7-3. Three-time league MVP and eight-time All-Star Lebron James took charge for the Heat, leading the team with 27 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists. He was helped by Shane Battier (18 points), Chris Bosh (14) and Mike Miller (12), in what was an impressive team performance. The Heat were on fire from distance, claiming 39 points at 48 percent from outside the three-point arc compared to the Nuggets 18 points at 30 percent.


Knicks 104, Spurs 100
In San Antonio, Texas, veteran guard Jason Kidd nailed three fourth quarter three pointers as the New York Knicks beat San Antonio 104-100 Thursday to remain the league’s last remaining unbeaten team.
Raymond Felton had a game-high 25 points and Kidd contributed 14 for the Knicks who are off to their best start since compiling a 7-0 record to begin the 1993-94 season.
The Knicks have won six games to start the season as they used a late offensive burst to beat the Spurs, scoring 27 points in the final seven-plus minutes.
J.R. Smith came off the bench to score 17 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer late in the game in front of a crowd of 18,581. Tyson Chandler finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
New York won despite Carmelo Anthony’s off night as the Knicks’ top scoring forward managed just nine points on three-of-12 shooting.
The Knicks also won their first game in San Antonio since April 2003, snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Spurs.
Tony Parker led San Antonio with 19 points and 12 assists, while Kawhi Leonard finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. Tim Duncan added 14 points and 14 rebounds.
“Tony was exhausted, we got tired, but part of it was trying to guard those guys,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said.


Nets 102, Celtics 97
In New York, craving a victory over a top team, all the Brooklyn Nets needed was someone to make a couple of big shots.
That’s one of the reasons they traded for Joe Johnson.
Johnson made the tiebreaking basket with 3:03 left, followed with another jumper, and the Nets beat the Boston Celtics 102-97 on Thursday night for their fourth straight victory.
Johnson finished only 6 of 17 from the field, but he had the two biggest makes of the game in the biggest victory his new team has recorded since acquiring him from Atlanta.
‘’When you’re struggling like that, a lot of times we remember what happens in the fourth quarter. (Like) a baseball player. He goes 0 for 3, but he gets up in the ninth inning and hits a home run or a double to bring somebody in. That’s what you remember and it’s the same thing tonight with Joe,’’ Nets coach Avery Johnson said. ‘’He struggled a little bit but I thought he did a good job to get quality shots.’’
Especially since fellow All-Star guard Deron Williams was fighting through a foot or ankle injury after getting hit on a spin move earlier in the game.
‘’Down the stretch I die for moments like that,’’ Joe Johnson said.
‘’I just didn’t make shots like I normally do, but in the last three or four minutes of the game I tried to focus a little more and just be a little more aggressive.’’
Williams and Brook Lopez each scored 24 points for the Nets, who were blown out by Miami in their lone game against a top opponent this season, their first with a rebuilt team and high expectations in Brooklyn.
So they didn’t hide how much it meant to beat the perennial Atlantic Division champions.
‘’This was a huge win for us,’’ Williams said.


Williams had eight assists and made all nine free throws on a night Paul Pierce had two huge misses from the line in the final minute for the Celtics, who played without injured point guard Rajon Rondo.
Johnson finished with 19 points and eight rebounds for the Nets in front of a sold-out crowd of 17,732 that was divided but certainly loud in the tense, final minutes.
Pierce scored 22 points and Leandro Barbosa had 17 in place of Rondo, who was out with a sprained right ankle. Kevin Garnett added 14 points but Boston had its three-game win streak snapped and lost to the Nets for just the third time in the past 21 meetings.
Boston led 79-74 after three before the Nets evened it up at 85 on Jerry Stackhouse’s 3-pointer with 6:21 to play. It was still tied before Johnson made consecutive jumpers and Lopez scored on a follow shot for a six-point lead, and the Celtics could never catch up - especially when Pierce missed two free throws with 34.5 seconds left and Boston trailing by three.
Pierce’s layup attempt had barely missed while he was fouled. Instead of the game potentially being tied with a basket and free throw, the Celtics were still down three after the 83.6 percent free throw shooter coming in clanged them both.


‘’I think I was thinking about the layup too much, a little disappointed. It was unlike me to miss two free throws,’’ Pierce said. ‘’So I take a lot of blame for down the stretch. I’m the guy they call upon to make the plays and I didn’t make the plays tonight. It’s a long season, but that’s not the main reason we lost tonight. You can point to a number of little things we talk about all season long.’’
Rondo was hurt in the third quarter Wednesday night in a home victory over Utah. Without the NBA leader in assists, averaging 12.6, coach Doc Rivers said the playbook would be reduced because Barbosa didn’t fully know the offense yet.
But the speedy Brazilian created for himself just fine, blowing by defenders for layups though finishing with just two assists.
Avery Johnson said the Nets needed a breakthrough against a quality opponent such as Boston and was interested to see how far his team had come since the Celtics smashed them 115-85 here in the preseason, a night he felt the longtime Atlantic Division rulers were trying to send a message to his team.
The Nets have definitely closed the gap.
They had led by 20 or more in their past three home games and opened a 13-point cushion early in the third quarter of this one.


But Pierce, who had a quiet six-point first half, suddenly got going midway through the period with a 3-pointer and basket as the Celtics fans - still noticeable around the arena though not nearly to the extent as when the Nets played in New Jersey - became more vocal.
When he picked up his fourth foul and Rivers sent Jeff Green to the table to check in for him, Pierce pleaded to stay, Rivers agreed, and Pierce made the gamble pay off with consecutive baskets that gave Boston a 73-71 lead.
The Nets shot out to a quick 11-point lead that was trimmed to 31-26 after one quarter. Brooklyn kept its lead throughout the second quarter, using 15 offensive rebounds in the first half to score 19 second-chance points and build a 59-50 advantage.
‘’I was disappointed with our effort in the first half. I thought they just kicked our butts in the first half,’’ Rivers said. ‘’I thought they were more physical, went over our backs, pushed us around. In the second half, we did that. And the fourth quarter I thought we had great shots, we just couldn’t make any of them.’’

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