Nikola Jokic — who leads the NBA in double-doubles — had 21 points and 11 rebounds, leading the Denver Nuggets to a 109-82 win over the host Miami Heat on Wednesday night.
Denver outscored the Heat 50-28 in the paint, and the Nuggets held Miami to 37.5-percent shooting.
Jokic, who has a double-double in each of Denver’s 18 games this season, led the Nuggets to their fifth straight win.
Denver also got a double-double from Jamychal Green (15 points, 10 rebounds). Michael Porter Jr., who joined Green as a reserve, added 17 points, five rebounds and four steals.
Miami, led by Bam Adebayo’s 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists, lost its fourth straight game.
The Heat also got 17 points from Kendrick Nunn, who made his first start of the season.
However, the short-handed Heat were without three key players: five-time All-Star Jimmy Butler (COVID protocol), second-leading scorer Tyler Herro (neck) and 2018 All-Star Goran Dragic (groin). It was the third game missed this season by Dragic, while Butler (nine straight) and Herro (seven) have endured long-term absences.
Among Heat role players, Meyers Leonard (shoulder) remains out, but Avery Bradley (COVID protocol) returned for his first action since Jan. 9. He scored eight points.
The Nuggets were without P.J. Dozier (hamstring).
Denver, with an early 13-1 run, led 26-12 after the first quarter. Miami missed its first 13 tries from three-point range in the quarter and shot just 22.7 percent overall. Denver shot 52.4 percent for the period.
It was the lowest-scoring first quarter of the season for the Heat, who were almost outscored singlehandedly by Will Barton’s 10 points. Barton was scoreless the rest of the way.
The Nuggets stretched their lead 58-33 at halftime, shooting 51.1 percent from the floor. Miami shot just 30.8 percent in the first half, including 19.2 percent on 3-pointers (5-for-26). Jokic led all first-half scorers with 16 points.
Miami cut its deficit to 74-65 after three quarters. Miami finished that period on a 10-0 run accumulated in 71 seconds.
The Heat cut their deficit to as few as seven points early in the fourth, but the Nuggets responded to earn the victory.
–Field Level Media