Heat ride 17-5 run in 4th quarter to tie with Nuggets

Nabil Anas

Global Courant

Trailing 2-0 in the NBA Finals, with the visitors in a hostile arena where no road team had triumphed in over two months, the Miami Heat decided to do what they’ve been doing all of the postseason.

They found a way. Against all expectations. Again.

The Heat tied the NBA Finals, needing to overcome a monster 41-point attempt by Nikola Jokic to do it. Gabe Vincent scored 23 points, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo each had 21, and Heat defeated the Denver Nuggets 111-108 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

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“Our guys are competitors,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “They love moments like this.”


They trailed by as much as 15 points, down eight points going into the fourth, and those numbers meant they were going to lose. Denver was 11-0 in these playoffs as he led by double digits at any point in a game, and 37-1 overall this season as he led by at least eight going into the fourth.

The heat didn’t care. They beat Denver 17-5 in the first 3:17 of the fourth to take the lead for good, eventually going up 12, wasting most of it, and had to survive a 3-point attempt by Jamal Murray after time expired .

“This is the final,” said Adebayo. “We took one out.”

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Game 3 is Wednesday in Miami.

Max Strus scored 14 and Duncan Robinson had 10 – all in the fourth – for the Heat, who had a big early lead, then fell back by as many as 15. They had no answers for Jokic, who was 16 of 28 from the floor, the last of which shot a 4-footer with 36 seconds left to get the Nuggets within three.

Denver chose not to foul on Miami’s ensuing possession and it paid off. Butler missed a 3, and with a tie chance, Murray missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

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“I just disputed it,” Butler said. “Pretty glad he missed it.”

“Let’s talk about effort”

Denver lost at home for the first time since March 30 and first in 10 home games this year. And just as he did after a Game 1 win, Nuggets coach Michael Malone sounded the alarm after losing in Game 2.

“Let’s talk about effort,” Malone said. “I mean, this is the NBA Finals and we’re talking about effort. That’s a big concern of mine. You probably thought I was just making up a storyline after Game 1 when I said we weren’t playing well. That we didn’t play well. … This isn’t the preseason. This isn’t the regular season. This is the NBA Finals.”

The Kitchener, Ont., native Murray had 18 points and 10 assists for Denver, while Aaron Gordon had 12 points and Bruce Brown had 11.

“They just played hard, and like I said, it was more disciplined,” said Murray. “It’s defeat when you give up mistake after mistake, and it’s not that they beat you, you give them open dunks or open shots. That’s hard to come back from.”

LOOK | Kitchener, Ontario, applauding Murray:

Canadian NBA star Jamal Murray gets love in his hometown in Kitchener, Ont.

Fans in Kitchener, Ontario, the hometown of Canadian basketball player Jamal Murray, are thrilled as he and the Denver Nuggets battle for a historic NBA championship victory over the Miami Heat.

Strus, who was 0 for 10 in Game 1, had four 3-pointers in the first quarter of Game 2. Butler jumped with 4:56 left in the first quarter to put Miami up 21-10, taking the lead second-biggest equalizer. lead that every opponent in Denver had built up to this point in these playoffs.

In a flash it was gone – and then some.

The Nuggets defeated Miami 32-11 in the next 9 minutes, turning the double-digit deficit into a double-digit lead thanks to an absolute three-point barrage.

In the span of 70 seconds at the start of the second quarter, Denver got four 3s—more points than Miami in that entire 9-minute span—and they came from four different players: Brown, then Jeff Green, then Murray, then Gordon.

Boom, boom, boom and boom. Murray had five consecutive points to end the flurry, and Denver led 44-32 when it was over. It seemed that everything went to Denver.

Miami insisted otherwise. And for the 44th time this season, the Heat won a game by five points or less. None of them were bigger than this one.

“When it comes to the wire,” Vincent said, “we feel strangely comfortable.”

Heat ride 17-5 run in 4th quarter to tie with Nuggets

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