CONSISTENTLY GREAT. Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) dribbles the basketball ahead of Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) and forward Vlatko Cancar (31) during the second quarter at Miami-Dade Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports/Reuters
Leading 3-time MVP candidate Nikola Jokic leads 7 teammates in double-digit scoring as the Denver Nuggets squeak past the Miami Heat
Nikola Jokic had 27 points and 12 rebounds, Michael Porter Jr. scored 17 points and the visiting Denver Nuggets beat the Miami Heat 112-108 on Monday night (Tuesday, February 14, Manila time).
Bruce Brown had 16 points, Jeff Green scored 12 and Vlatko Cancar, Christian Braun and Thomas Bryant added 10 apiece for the Nuggets.
Jimmy Butler had 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, Max Strus scored 23 points, Bam Adebayo added 19, Gabe Vincent finished with 15 and Jamaree Bouyea had 10 for Miami.
Both teams were missing key players on Monday night. For Denver, Jamal Murray (right knee inflammation) missed his fifth straight game and Aaron Gordon (left rib contusion) was out for the second consecutive game.
The Heat played without Tyler Herro (left knee contusion), Kyle Lowry (left knee soreness) and Victor Oladipo (right ankle sprain).
Miami led by as many as 11 in the first quarter and was up 36-27 heading into the second, but the Nuggets came on in the final 12 minutes of the first half. Jokic scored 11 points and Porter had six in the second quarter to give Denver a 65-62 lead at halftime.
The Nuggets increased the lead to 85-75 late in the third quarter before the Heat closed within six points heading into the fourth.
Denver went ahead 91-83 but Miami scored the next seven points to pull within a point. It stayed within three points over the next few possessions, with the Nuggets leading 97-94 with 7:45 remaining.
Porter’s steal led to a putback by Braun and then Porter hit a layup to make it 103-96 with 5:23 left. The teams traded corner 3-pointers that made it 108-101 with 3:34 left.
Three free throws by the Heat cut the deficit to four, Jokic hit a layup and an offensive goaltending by Butler kept it at 110-104 with 1:41 left.
Brown missed a 25-footer, Adebayo made a 7-foot bank shot and Brown missed again, but Miami couldn’t convert on its next possession. Porter missed a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left but the Heat again failed to score on the ensuing possession and Denver closed it out. – Rappler.com