Nets retire Kidd’s No. 5, beat Heat in preseason

NEW YORK. Paul Pierce drove his shoulder right into LeBron James, a postseason foul in a preseason game. A message to the NBA champions? ‘’It’s a message to the league,’’ Pierce said
Brooklyn Nets' Joe Johnson (L) defends Miami Heat's Lebron James during the first half. Net photo.
Brooklyn Nets' Joe Johnson (L) defends Miami Heat's Lebron James during the first half. Net photo.

NEW YORK. Paul Pierce drove his shoulder right into LeBron James, a postseason foul in a preseason game. A message to the NBA champions? ‘’It’s a message to the league,’’ Pierce said.

The Brooklyn Nets showed the defensive toughness Pierce said will be their identity, smothering the Miami Heat 86-62 on Thursday night after retiring coach Jason Kidd’s number.

Brook Lopez scored 14 points for the Nets on a night that peaked with the pregame. Kidd’s No. 5 was lifted to the Barclays Center rafters during a ceremony a few minutes before the tip, honoring him for leading the franchise to its greatest NBA success.

The game itself could have used the jolt Kidd provided when the Nets acquired him in 2001. Except for a few James highlights, it was typical exhibition play, with starters resting and subs misfiring for much of the night.

But there’s already a hint this could become a rivalry when the games do count, as Miami-Boston was before the Celtics traded Pierce and Garnett to Brooklyn.

James and Chris Bosh each finished with 16 points for the Heat, who shot 32 percent and did next to nothing in the 20 minutes James wasn’t on the floor.

The Nets believe their acquisition of Pierce and Garnett, along with a number of other moves, has given them a roster that can compete with the Heat in the Eastern Conference.

All that could really be told from this game was that the Nets appear to have a better back end of their bench.

Miami managed just 12 points in the second quarter, when it went mostly with reserves and fell behind 44-28.

Kidd led the Nets to consecutive NBA Finals as a player and became the sixth member of the franchise to have his number retired.  The teams will meet again in Brooklyn on Nov. 1 in the Nets’ home opener.

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