Game Notes: Heat at Nuggets
Miami loses third straight in Denver.
by Sulaiman Folarin / @sulaiman4real
Denver, CO – Ty Lawson scored 24 points and dished out 9 assists in the Denver Nuggets 117-104 win over the visiting Miami Heat at the Pepsi Center Friday night. The Heat, coming off back-to-back road losses, was expected to run through the Nuggets, but it was coach George Karl’s team that was doing the running through.
“They just broke us down too many times, broke down our defense too many times and was able to get pretty much whatever they wanted,” said LeBron James, who finished with a game-high 35 points.
Miami jumped all over Denver early, scoring the first 6 points of the game through James and Dwyane Wade. But the Nuggets’ first 6 points came from an unexpected source: center Timofey Mozgov. Mozgov is known more for his aggressive plays while plucking rebounds and blocking shots, and he picked up 3 block shots that kept the team in it early.
Before the game, while the locker room was open to the media for pregame, Wade asked Chris Bosh if he had ever won in Denver, and Bosh said no. Wade then mentioned, almost verbatim: “We’re going to get a win here tonight.”
But that was not the case. It was the team from Denver that had been overlooked by many—including the Heat—who took the win when the buzzer sounded.
“I think the test came at a good time, and of course winning the game gives us an A- or B+ for the test,” coach Karl said about his team’s performance.
Nuggets starters Arron Afflalo and Danilo Gallinari had back-to-back baskets that seemed enough to settle the Nuggets back into the game and give them a 3-point lead with 6:06 left in the first quarter.
“When we got up by 10 or 11, we kept the score like that for most of the second half then we got it up to 18. We kept the energy at a high level for 49 minutes,” Danilo Gallinari said. “That’s what we have to do against the best teams.”
The Nuggets uptempo game was relentless, and their young point guard played a pivotal role.
Lawson caught fire and scored two back-to-back buckets, one off a fast break, as he also dished out an assist to Nene to extend the Nuggets lead to 8 with 4:11 left in the quarter.
The Heat closed the gap with Udonis Haslem’s two jump shots as the quarter finished 30-21, but Denver’s second quarter performance was matched by a better third quarter.
Al Harrington and Rudy Fernandez finished the game with 15 points each, while Andre Miller had just 7 points, but his calming presence helped even though the team ran Miami out of the gym.
“It was a tough one tonight. Sometimes you’re never quite as good as you think you are or as bad as you think you are. We have to go home and get healthy and get better,” said Erik Spoelstra, Miami’s head coach.
Spoelstra was talking specifically about Wade, who played about 29 minutes and only scored 12 points. Wade left the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle sprain.
“It’s not broken and that’s a positive,” he said. “It’s frozen right now, I just got out of the ice bucket but I’ve sprained my ankle plenty of times but never like that before.”
The Nuggets are off on Saturday, but get right back to it on Sunday when they host the Utah Jazz.