Denver Nuggets 113, Miami Heat 96: Three Takeaways

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyroNBA

Mondays are better with basketball, and they’re certainly better with a win for the Denver Nuggets. Stifling defense and a balanced scoring attack fueled a 113-96 victory over the Miami Heat at Ball Arena.

Denver built an 18-12 during the opening minutes of the game, capitalizing off of early turnovers from Miami and using hot 3-point shooting to help build the early advantage. Monte Morris dropped 10 points in the opening frame, but Miami was able to narrow the lead down a bit as Denver took a 30-25 lead into the second frame.

A pair of Will Barton triples early in the second quarter helped push Denver’s lead up to 11 at 43-32. As Denver continued to make life difficult for Miami’s offense, the Nuggets pushed their lead up to 17 late in the first half. Fueled by three players in double figures (Morris, Nikola Jokić, Barton), Denver secured a 64-49 lead at the break.

Within the first two minutes of the third quarter, Denver pushed the lead to 20 following a 3-pointer from Barton. Things only continued to get worse for Miami as the quarter continued, with the Nuggets extending the lead to 23 points near the midway point of the frame. Denver eventually took a 91-70 lead into the final quarter.

Of course, Miami wouldn’t go down without on final fight. An 8-1 run to open the fourth quarter cut Denver’s lead down to 92-78. It didn’t take long for the Nuggets to regain the momentum as the starters checked back in, and Denver built the lead back up to 18 with just under seven minutes remaining. Miami slowly chipped away at the lead but never got it below double-digits in the remaining minutes.

Here are three takeaways from Monday’s win.

Jokić in control

Monday’s game was a clinic from the reigning MVP, who mixed scoring, rebounding, and playmaking the only way he can to the tune of 25 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists. Going up against Miami’s physical defense didn’t slow the Serbian big man down as he was in control throughout the game as he directed Denver’s offense.

Jokić also did his job on the defensive end Monday, racking up two steals and two blocks in the win.

Lockdown defense

In what has become the norm for the Nuggets this season, they won using stifling defense. Denver held Miami to 96 points on 39.7 percent shooting from the field.

The Heat struggled from all areas of the floor, finishing with only 26 points in the paint Monday night. Miami was able to generate offense from the charity strip, going 21-of-25 from the line.

Balanced scoring attack

When you look at the box score and see that each starter finished in double figures, you know it was a good night.

That was the case Monday night at Ball Arena, as the Nuggets used a balanced scoring attack and effective ball movement to fuel the win. Led by Jokić’s 25 points, Denver’s starters were in a rhythm Monday night, with Barton (25), Monte Morris (14), Jeff Green (13), and Aaron Gordon (10) all chipping into the effort.

Denver is back in action Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers (7 p.m. MT).

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