The Denver Nuggets started their first game without Jamal Murray with a block from Michael Porter Jr. and a layup from Nikola Jokic before Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat matched it with a quick jumper. A 3-point make from Jokic had him rolling with a quick 2-of-2 before Trevor Ariza took a steal the other way for an easy layup. Jimmy Butler knocked down a pair of free throws before Bam banked home a jumper for two more.
Porter bookended a bucket from Bam to bring Denver within one before an Aaron Gordon jumper regained the lead. Denver gave up five points from the corner and the line before Porter got another two-point jumper. Precious Achiuwa got away with an eight-foot travel before he put a layup in. A Heat steal turned into two points and a timeout from Michael Malone to stop a 9-2 run.
Air Gordon taking flight early ✈️ pic.twitter.com/8cxaH1eg73— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) April 15, 2021
Jokic found Gordon for an easy dunk out of the timeout. Porter got a block on Achiuwa before Gordon skied through the entire defense for a one-handed slam. Gordon drew a foul and made 1-of-2 at the line. Denver forced a pair of misses before Gordon drew another foul down in the paint. Jokic got another bucket to fall that gave Denver a 20-19 lead and forced Erik Spoelstra to call a timeout.
Out of the timeout, Adebayo hit a pair of free throws and traded buckets with Denver before JaMychal Green hit a long jumper. A 3-point bucket from Duncan Robinson gave Miami a brief lead before Jokic tapped in a layup while matched up with Robinson down low before Trevor Ariza cashed a 3-point shot. A Herro layup stretched the lead to five with 15 seconds remaining, and Will Barton was unable to match which left Denver trailing 31-26 at the end of the first quarter.
Coming out of the quarter break, P.J. Dozier hit a deep triple before getting a steal off of Butler, but Barton immediately gave it back with a charge. A miss by Adebayo was followed up by a 3-point make from Green to regain the lead. Paul Millsap got away with a goaltending call, but Green gave the ball back by bowling over Gabe Vincent for the team’s eighth turnover on the night.
The two sides traded misses before Butler drew a foul on Barton to send himself to the line for an and-one opportunity. After converting that, Denver scored but turned the ball over afterwards, and they were down by four. A Millsap layup brought the team within two out of the timeout. After some great defense by Facundo Campazzo, Dozier tied the game up with a great layup. The two sides traded empty possessions before Porter drilled a triple in the face of Achiuwa which prompted a quick Heat timeout.
Denver forced a miss out of the timeout before Porter hit Jokic for an easy layup. Jokic found Dozier to stretch the run to 11 before Bam stopped the bleeding with a two-point bucket. Monte Morris got two points on the board which put the lead to seven. Porter was called for a charge, which was his first foul of the game, but Malone challenged the call and ended up being successful to send Porter to the line where he was 2-of-2.
A 15-2 run had stretched the lead to nine before Porter got it to double digits with a mid-range jumper. Ariza finally got the Heat back into the scoring column with a triple. Jokic was blocked by Adebayo, but Gordon hit Porter for a forceful dunk. Morris was blocked, but he got his second attempt to fall to put the lead to 12. Butler and Morris traded quick layups with 60 seconds remaining before Robinson airballed a 3-point shot. Jokic hit a pair of free throws to put the lead to 14 with 31 seconds to go in the half. Ariza knocked down a corner triple, and Denver was leading 60-49 heading into the break.
Miami nailed a triple out of the break, but Porter got those three points right back with a deep three of his own. Robinson hit a wide-open corner three, and Porter got a mid-range jumper to fall that was quickly matched by Adebayo for a flurry of points in the first two minutes. Morris got the shooter’s bounce from the corner which put the lead to 11 before a layup by Nunn. On the other end, Jokic got an and-one dunk to fall through some contact from Robinson, and he converted the three-point play.
Free throws and baskets were traded, and, after the flurry was over, Denver was leading by seven with 7:43 remaining and a timeout by Denver. Out of the timeout, Jokic drew a foul on Adebayo to get himself to the line where he went 1-of-2. Following a block from Denver, Morris hit Barton on the wing for a 3-point make before Butler flushed down a putback dunk. Gordon got them right back by overpowering Butler down in the post.
Can we talk about that pass from Nikola... pic.twitter.com/yy58s94vzH— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) April 15, 2021
Up by 11, Jokic found Morris in transition for a layup that he missed initially but was able to convert off the offensive rebound. Out of a Miami timeout, Bam got a jumper to fall from eight feet in the paint. Miami forced a miss out of Jokic, but Dozier was able to steal the possession back before Gordon scored a reverse layup off of the team’s second offensive rebound. A Jokic block ended with Jokic finding Dozier for a layup to stretch the lead to 15 before Max Strus and Dozier traded triples and a timeout was called by the Heat.
Butler found Precious for a layup out of the timeout, and Green was blocked on the other end. Andre Iguodala hit a turnaround jumper before Green hit his third triple of the night. Facu got an easy layup following another Dozier steal before forcing a miss out of Herro. Miami got with 14 with 60 seconds remaining, and it looked like no more points would be added until Facu drilled a fadeaway triple with just one second remaining on the clock to give Denver a 96-79 lead.
Miami hit a quick triple to start the quarter, and Dozier hit a contested one from the wing after a near turnover. They traded empty possessions before Green hit a corner triple to stretch the lead to 20. Bam was fouled and sent to the line where he went 2-of-2, but Facu erased them with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. A Vincent triple had Miami within 18 with 9:00 remaining, but Porter continued his big night with a 3-pointer of his own.
Porter snagged a rebound to give him a double-double, and Green sent a shot attempt from Herro flying the other way on a layup attempt. Iguodala hit a contested layup, but Green was fouled on the other end to get to the line for a chance at a 3-point play that he converted. Miami was staying in the game by getting to the free-throw line and hitting triples as they were trailing by 18 with 6:14 remaining when Malone called a timeout.
Gordon hit a triple out of the timeout, and Denver was leading by 21 before Strus hit a layup. Jokic found Barton in the corner for a triple, and Denver was just working to salt the game away with 4:15 remaining. Down by 20, Dewayne Dedmon went 1-of-2 at the line before Jokic tipped the ball to himself a few times which gave himself a triple-double on the night before a Nunn layup made it a 17-point game.
The two sides had emptied the benches with less than two minutes remaining, and they were just running out the clock. This was a big win for Denver in their first matchup without Murray against a largely healthy Heat team. While they’re not as scary as they were with Jamal, they showed that they are much more than some pushover team that should be left for dead at the end of a 123-106 victory.
Points: Michael Porter Jr. - 25
Assists: Nikola Jokic - 11
Rebounds: Porter & Jokic - 10
Player of the Game: Michael Porter Jr. 25 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 10-of-14 field goal, 3-of-6 3-point, 2-of-2 free throw