MIAMI — LeBron James leaped onto a courtside table as the postgame celebration was starting, thumped his chest and punched the air.
Next stop: The Eastern Conference finals. Again.
James scored 29 points, Dwyane Wade added 28 and Ray Allen delivered two huge plays in the final seconds as the Heat rallied to beat the Brooklyn Nets 96-94 on Wednesday night, winning the second-round matchup 4-1.
“It’s always been like that for us,” James said. “It’s never easy. It’s never easy for us.”
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Sure looks easy, though. It was the 10th straight series win for the two-time defending NBA champions.
“When we met the first day for prep we said the No. 1 key, overwhelmingly the No. 1 key in this series, was great mental stability,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
“That’s what it was down the stretch … incredible focus.”
Down by eight with less than five minutes left, the Heat forced Brooklyn into nine straight missed shots while peeling off a 12-0 run to take the lead. Allen’s three-pointer off an assist by Mario Chalmers with 32 seconds remaining was the go-ahead moment, and the Heat wouldn’t trail again.
Allen disrupted Joe Johnson’s dribble on the game’s final play, James then swatted the bouncing ball out of everyone’s reach, time expired — and the Heat advanced.
The Heat will next face either Washington or top-seeded Indiana. The Pacers lead that series 3-2.
SAN ANTONIO — Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard each scored 22 points, and the San Antonio Spurs overcame an injury to Tony Parker to close out the Western Conference semifinals with a 104-82 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Patty Mills scored 18 points and Tim Duncan had 16 points and eight rebounds for San Antonio, which had four blowout victories in the five-game series.
It’s the third straight conference finals appearance for San Antonio, which lost a heartbreaking seven-game series to the Miami Heat in last season’s NBA Finals.
San Antonio, which had the NBA’s best record, will await the winner of the series between Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Thunder has a 3-2 lead.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points for Portland, while Damian Lillard added 17 points and 10 assists.
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors won the bidding war with the New York Knicks for Steve Kerr, hiring him away from the TNT broadcast table to be their coach. Kerr agreed to a $25 million, five-year deal with Golden State, said his agent, Mike Tannenbaum.
• The Detroit Pistons officially hired Stan Van Gundy as their new coach and president of basketball operations. Van Gundy agreed to a $35 million, five-year contract.