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Nuggets stave off Heat rally in Finals rematch

Feb 29, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) controls the ball as Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) guards in the first quarter at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Porter Jr. scored 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Denver Nuggets withstood a late rally by the visiting Miami Heat to win 103-97 on Thursday in a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals.

Miami used a 14-5 run to pull within 99-95 with 52.5 seconds remaining, and Jimmy Butler scored with 10.7 seconds left to make it a two-point game. Nikola Jokic then made two foul shots and the Nuggets held on for their fifth straight win after forcing a turnover on Miami’s next possession.

The Nuggets snapped the Heat’s five-game winning streak despite playing without guard Jamal Murray for the entire second half. Murray exited the game late in the second quarter with a right ankle sprain and did not return.

Jokic finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, ending his run of four consecutive triple-doubles. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also scored 18 points and Aaron Gordon finished with 16 points and nine rebounds for Denver, which never trailed.

Bam Adebayo led Miami with 22 points and eight boards. Butler added 21 points, Terry Rozier had 19, Caleb Martin scored 13, and Duncan Robinson chipped in 12. Miami shot 7 of 26 (26.9 percent) from 3-point range.

Denver started hot and led 36-20 at the end of the first quarter after shooting 56 percent from the field and 6-for-9 from 3-point range.

The Nuggets were unable to maintain the early pace and saw Miami cut the deficit to 56-51 entering halftime. Porter had 18 points in the first half for Denver, which shot just 5-for-21 (23.8 percent) from the field in the second quarter.

Miami pulled within 65-63 after Adebayo scored with 6:27 left in the third quarter, but the Nuggets held an 83-70 advantage at the end of the period after closing on an 18-7 run.

Both teams shot under 43 percent from the field in their first matchup since Denver posted a 4-1 series victory in last season’s NBA Finals.

Miami played without forward Kevin Love (right heel bruise) and guard Tyler Herro, who missed his third straight game due to left knee hyperextension.

–Field Level Media

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