Reigning league MVP Nikola Jokic returned from a four-game injury absence to account for 24 points, a game-high 15 rebounds and a team-high seven assists as the Denver Nuggets defeated the host Miami Heat 120-111 on Monday night.
Denver shot 58.1 percent from the floor, including 18-for-35 on three-pointers (51.4 percent).
Jokic, who had been out with a sprained right wrist, made 9 of 14 shots from the floor and 5 of 6 on free throws as Denver snapped a season-worst six-game losing streak.
Aaron Gordon added 20 points for the Nuggets (10-10), who improved to 3-6 on the road. Bones Hyland came in off the bench and scored 19 points on 5-for-8 three-point shooting.
This was the first game played between these teams since the host Nuggets beat Miami on Nov. 8. Jokic and Miami’s Markieff Morris were involved in a skirmish in that game. Morris (neck injury) has yet to play as a result of that altercation, and Jokic was booed throughout Monday’s game.
Miami played without its top two scorers on Monday: Jimmy Butler (tailbone contusion) and Tyler Herro (body soreness). Those two are combining this season for 45.4 points per game.
Bam Adebayo led Miami with 24 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Kyle Lowry added 17 points and a game-high 14 assists for the Heat (13-8), who fell to 6-3 at home.
For Denver, Jamal Murray (knee) and Michael Porter Jr. (back) remained out. The Nuggets announced on Monday that Porter will have his third back surgery on Wednesday and will miss the rest of the season.
Denver led 32-23 after the first quarter as the Nuggets shot 57.9 percent, and Miami was held to 37.5 percent. Adebayo went scoreless, but Jokic had nine points on perfect shooting: 3-for-3 from the floor and 3-for-3 from the foul line.
The Nuggets stretched their lead to 63-43 at halftime, shooting 61.1 percent from the floor for the opening 24 minutes, including 7-for-15 on three-pointers (46.7 percent). Miami missed 16 of its final 18 first-half three-pointers.
Jokic led all first-half scorers with 17 points, and Hyland was next with 13.
In the third quarter, Miami cut its deficit to 95-78, although Denver’s Facundo Campazzo made a deep three-pointer with just 1.6 seconds left before the buzzer, and the Heat were never able to make a run in the fourth.
–Field Level Media