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Nuggets Down Heat, Snap 3-Game Losing Streak
There’s no place like home.
The Denver Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat 103-87 in their first game back at Pepsi Center after losing the final three of a four-game road trip.
The Nuggets gave their faithful fans something to cheer for early, jumping out to an eight-point lead after a first quarter during which reserve guard Monte Morris went off for 15 points.
The Heat, ninth in the Eastern Conference standings heading into the game, hung tough for a while, trimming their deficit to five by at the half. But the Nuggets would put the Heat away in the third quarter, when they went up by as many as 18.
“I think our guys understood, losing three in a row, the numbers that we had been allowing were not anywhere close to the standards that we have set for ourselves,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said of his team’s defense. “Defense starts on the ball. Our guards did a good job of picking up and making them feel us early.”
Denver (38-18) distanced itself from Miami with a barrage of 3-pointers during a 52-second span of the third, during which they doubled their lead. First, Nuggets wing Will Barton knocked down a 25-footer to give the Nuggets their first double-digit lead at 69-57. Then, point guard Jamal Murray knocked down a triple at the 5:52 mark of the quarter. Finally, Barton added another from long range 17 seconds later to put the finishing touches on a 16-0 run that took Miami out of contention and gave the Nuggets a 75-57 lead.
Things really got out of hand in the fourth when the Nuggets went up 20.
Once again, Denver All-Star Center Nikola Jokić led his team, putting up a double-double comprised of 23 points and 12 rebounds. The big fella was also deadly from outside, connecting on all three of his 3-point attempts.
Nuggets guard Malik Beasley scored 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting, going 4 of 6 from deep. Morris did most of his damage in that first quarter, finishing with 17 Points while going 7 of 11 from the field to go along with seven assists and three rebounds. Mason Plumlee contributed with 11 points and Paul Millsap, in his first game since missing the previous four due to injury, nearly recorded a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds to help the Nuggets improve to 24-4 at home.
“What I saw was a guy that should be playing this weekend in Charlotte,” Malone said of Morris. “Monte Morris should be playing in the Rising Stars game. You can’t tell me there are that many players that are better than Monte Morris. The impact that he’s had this year, running his team, taking care of it, shooting the three. The guy had 17 (points), 7 (assists) and zero turnovers tonight against a very stingy defense.”
Justise Winslow led Miami with 15 points followed by James Johnson (14), Josh Richardson (12), Dion Waiters (11) and Kelly Olynyk (11) as the Heat dropped to 25-29.
Denver limited Miami to 27.3 percent shooting from the field and won the turnover battle 19-15.
The Nuggets will host the Sacramento Kings Wednesday at 7 p.m. MT. That game will be broadcasted live on Altitude TV and streamed on AltitudeNOW.