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Recap: Denver Nuggets shut down the Miami Heat at home

NBA: Miami Heat at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat started out the first quarter of their Monday night matchup trading buckets for the first few minutes before the Nuggets went on a run to take a 21-12 lead midway through the quarter behind a strong shooting start from Monte Morris, who was 4-of-4, including 2-of-2 from 3-point range. Following that run, the Heat went on one of their own over the next three minutes of game time, and they were within two following a mid-range jumper by Tyler Herro. Some empty minutes for both sides came with a pair of triples rimming out for the Nuggets before Will Barton and Markief Morris traded buckets. A wild final possession by the Nuggets ended with a heave from Austin Rivers that bounced out with Denver leading 30-25 at the end of the first quarter.

The Nuggets started the second quarter with a quick five-point run to stretch their lead to 10. The Heat responded with points of their own before Denver went on another run thanks to a pair of triples from Barton and a bucket from rookie Bones Hyland that had the Nuggets lead 43-32 with 8:30 to go in the quarter. Following a turnover by P.J. Tucker, the Nuggets got out on the fast break and had the ball whipping around before it ended up in the hands of Jokic for a dunk that had Denver up by 13. The next couple of minutes were sloppy on both sides, but the Nuggets’ lead had ballooned to 17 before a 3-point shot from Caleb Martin stopped Denver’s run. Over the final few minutes of the quarter, the two sides were trading buckets, but Denver was leading by 17 with less than a minute remaining. Denver would go into the half leading 64-49 with the Heat shooting just 35.7 percent from the field.

The second half started very similarly to the first half with the two sides trading buckets early on before Barton hit a triple with just under 10:00 remaining to stretch Denver’s lead to 20. The Heat were scoring a bit in the quarter, but Denver was constantly keeping them at bay with buckets of their own with the lead consistently around 20 points in favor of Denver. A pair of Jimmy Butler free throws had the Heat within 17 with 3:30 remaining in the third quarter, and the two sides traded triples with under two minutes on the clock. As the third quarter was winding down, the two sides started getting to the rim more and more and ending up at the charity stripe with 43 combined free throws between the two sides with the third quarter winding down. A triple from Jeff Green stretched the Denver lead to 23 late in the quarter, and Denver would ultimately lead 91-70 heading into the final quarter.

The Heat started the fourth quarter with a quick five points in less than a minute of game time. Their run continued, and the Heat were within 14 with 9:51 remaining when Michael Malone called a timeout to stop the bleeding. Aaron Gordon got to the rim for a big dunk to get Denver back into the scoring column. A triple from Morris had the Heat within 15 with 7:00 remaining. Jokic found Barton in the corner for a triple that gave him his first triple-double of the year to stretch Denver’s lead up to 18 with 6:45 to go in the game. Miami was creeping back into the game as the quarter was winding down. They trailed by just 14 with 4:30 remaining. In less than 30 seconds, Denver’s lead was down to 13, and Malone was forced to call another timeout. A Barton triple out of the break went all the way around the rim before falling in. Barton hit another 3-pointer on the Nuggets’ next possession, and he had Denver leading 111-94 before a scuffle erupted between Morris and Jokic in transition. Morris gave a hard foul to Jokic, and Jokic delivered one right back that had Morris on the floor for several minutes before he was eventually walked off of the floor under his own power.

Jokic and Morris were both ejected on the spot with Butler receiving a technical foul. Bol Bol was called upon by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to shoot the free throws for Denver, and he missed both. Denver was leading 111-94 with 2:30 remaining, and they were now just trying to run out the clock with their reigning MVP back in the locker room. The two teams pulled their starters, and the only thing left to do was run out the clock with the Nuggets winning 113-96 with all five starters ending the game in double digits.

Stat Leaders

Points: Nikola Jokic & Will Barton - 25

Assists: Jokic - 10

Rebounds: Jokic - 15

Player of the Game: Will Barton - 25 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 9-of-14 field goal, 7-of-9 3-point, +18 plus/minus