It had been since Christmas Day that Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh all played together. They started that way, but it didn't last long. They Heat lost Dwyane Wade to upper back spasms early in the third quarter and he didn't return. It took a together effort for the Heat to win, and they did, beating the Denver Nuggets 97-94.
LeBron returned for his 29th birthday to score 26 points and dish out 10 assists, including one to Michael Beasley who hit a clutch 3-pointer with under a minute left to put the Heat up four. "It was a great pass by LeBron. I saw the opportunity and I took it" said Beasley. In Wade's absence, Ray Allen scored 13 points and had 7 rebounds. Chris Bosh followed up his Portland heroics scoring 17 points and grabbing 5 rebounds.
Miami also lost Norris Cole in the third quarter. Cole was fouled going up on a fastbreak and landed hard on his face. His mouth was bleeding and he was taken to the locker room. Cole couldn't shoot his free throws, so Nuggets' head coach Brian Shaw chose Joel Anthony to shoot them, and he made both of them. Anthony played two seconds before Spoelstra immediately and intentionally took him out. Cole was surprised when he came back to the bench to learn that he couldn't return to the game.
"Guys knew they had to step up when D-Wade and Cole went out, and they did" said James.
Ty Lawson kept the Nuggets ahead or close for much of the second half with heads up plays and tough shots. Lawson's speed has always been difficult for Miami to deal with. The Heat won for the second time in 2 years in Denver. Lawson led the Nuggets with 26 points. Four more of his teammates scored in double figures. Denver won the rebounding battle and out scored Miami 48-28 in the paint, but still came up short to the Heat who improved to 24-7 on the season.
It was a strange night for the Heat, who seemingly felt like they were in control of the game, but yet found themselves down by nine points at halftime. The Nuggets closed the first two quarters really well. James said before the game that he felt great, but his play suggested otherwise. LeBron started to fall in love with the jump shot and wasn't driving to the hole as usual. He managed the game much from the post in the first half and then facing the basket from the top in the second half.
Miami then made a flurry of a run in the third despite the injuries to retake the lead, and then squandered it by the end of the quarter. They retook the lead about midway through the fourth and hung on through a tight one in Denver. Ray and Beasley both came up big in the clutch.
For Miami, they close their road trip 3-1 with only a loss in Sacramento in OT as a blemish. They now played 3 of 4 at home before embarking on a 6 game Eastern Conference road trip.
Player of the game goes to LeBron James who continually made the shots and found his teammates. Happy Birthday King James!