DENVER (AP) — Staring at a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals, with the visitors in a hostile arena where no road team has dominated in more than two months, the Miami Heat decided to do what they’ve done all through the postseason. .
They found a way. Kill all enemies. once again.
The Heat tied for the NBA Finals and had to overcome a massive 41-point effort from Nikola Jokic to do so. Gabe Vincent scored 23 points, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo 21 each, and the Heat defeated the Denver Nuggets 111-108 in Game 2 on Sunday night.
“Our guys are competitive,” said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. “They love those kind of moments.”
It is clear.
They’re down as much as 15 points, down eight points in fourth place, and those numbers suggest they’re going to lose. Denver is 11-0 in this playoff when leading by double digits at any point in the game, and 37-1 this season overall when leading at least eight in the fourth.
The Heat didn’t care. They outscored Denver 17-5 in the first 3:17 of the fourth period to take the lead for good, eventually went up by 12, then missed most of it and had to survive a 3-point effort by Jamal Murray as time expired.
“This is the finals,” said Adebayo. “We destroyed one.”
The third game is Wednesday in Miami.
Max Strouss scored 14 and Duncan Robinson scored 10 — all in the fourth inning — for the Heat, who had a large early lead, then fell as low as 15. The floor, the last of those shots is 4 feet with 36 seconds left to get the Nuggets within three.
Denver opted to go no offense on Miami’s ensuing possession and it paid off. Butler missed a 3, and with a chance to tie it, Murray missed a 3 at the buzzer.
“I just objected to him,” Butler said. “So glad he missed it.”
Denver lost at home for the first time since March 30, and for the first time in 10 home games this year. And just as he did after winning Game 1, Nuggets coach Michael Malone sounded the alarm after losing 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 huge concern for me. You guys probably thought I was making up a postgame story when I said we didn’t play well. We didn’t play well. … That Not before the season begins. This is not the regular season. This is the NBA Finals.”
Murray had 18 points and 10 assists for Denver, while Aaron Gordon had 12 and Bruce Brown had 11.
“They played tough and, like I said, it was more disciplined,” said Murray. “It’s a defeat when you give up one mistake after another, and it’s not the ones who hit you, you give them open throws or open shots. That’s hard to come back from.”
Stross, who was zero for 10 in game one, had four three-pointers in the first quarter of game two. Butler made a jump shot with 4:56 remaining in the first quarter to put Miami ahead 21-10, tying the second-largest drive any opponent has built in Denver so far in this playoff.
In a flash, it was gone — and then some.
The Nuggets outscored Miami 32-11 over the next nine minutes, turning a double-digit deficit into a double-digit lead thanks to an absolute 3-point barrage.
In a 70-second period early in the second quarter, Denver had four 3 points—more than Miami had in a full 9-minute period—and they came from four different players: Brown, then Jeff Green, then Murray, and then Gordon.
Boom, boom, boom, boom. Murray had five straight points to end the rampage, and Denver led 44-32 when it was over. It seemed like everything was going Denver’s way.
Miami insisted otherwise. And for the 44th time this season, the Heat won a game by five points or fewer. None of them were bigger than this.
“When it comes to the wire, we’re strangely comfortable,” said Vincent.
Heat: Miami changed the starting lineup, with Kevin Love returning for the first five games, and Caleb Martin — who missed practice Saturday due to illness — coming off the bench. … The Heat earned their 13th win in this playoff, breaking a tie with the 1999 New York Knicks for the most ever by a No. 8 seed.
Nuggets: Jokic became the 14th different player in NBA history to score at least 41 in a losing Finals. … Denver hasn’t lost a game since May 7 — four weeks ago. … Among those in attendance were Nuggets legends Alex English, Lafonso Ellis (who finished his NBA career with Miami) and David Thompson.
Heat’s injured guard Tyler Hero played 2-on-2 Saturday as he continues his efforts to try to come back from a broken hand at some point in this Finals – but he’s still out. Herro was injured in the first half of Game 1 of Round 1 at Milwaukee. His status for Game 3 is unclear.
Commissioner Adam Silver told NBA TV before the game that negotiations for the next media rights deal are now a priority since the ratification of the new collective bargaining agreement — and how expansion talk will come next.
Silver said he believes media deal negotiations will begin “in earnest, probably next spring.” And after that, plans to add perks will be the next item on your to-do list.
“We don’t have anything specific in mind right now,” Silver said. “But I think it makes sense over time if you are a successful organization that it continues to grow. There is no doubt that there are a lot of great cities we would like to have in the NBA.”
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