With Miami down by one and time running out, Rashard Lewis somehow got a pass from underneath the basket to James, who rose as Plumlee jumped to contest the play. Replays showed Joe Johnson made some contact with James as he started his move and that Plumlee hit the four-time MVP’s hand on the dunk try, but the Heat never got the call they wanted.
“My initial thought was to just foul and make him earn it at the free-throw line,” Plumlee said.
That’s precisely what the Heat thought he did.
“He grabbed my right hand,” James said. “He didn’t do it on purpose, but he got my right hand.”
Said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: “It was a foul from my vantage point. But what can you do?”
Time expired, and just like that, Miami’s lead in the Eastern Conference was down to a half-game - one in the loss column - over Indiana.
Johnson scored 19 points, reserve Marcus Thornton had 16 and Paul Pierce scored 14 for the Nets. Plumlee had two of his three blocks in the last 2 minutes, the first of them on a short try by Chris Bosh that Miami felt should have been whistled for goaltending.
Still, his late work couldn’t get Plumlee a one-night respite from rookie duty.
“He still got to come in here and carry the bags and get the towels,” Pierce said.
Final score of the four Brooklyn-Miami games: Nets 389, Heat 377. Brooklyn won three of the games by a single point, becoming the third team in NBA history to have that many narrowest-of-margin wins over an opponent in the same regular season and the first team ever to do so without playing more than four times.
And the fourth went to double overtime.
All four could have gone Miami’s way. None of them did.