The Miami Heat defeated the Denver Nuggets, 98-95 in the Pepsi Center on Friday night behind Hassan Whiteside's third career triple-double. The Heat's big man scored 19 points with 17 rebounds and 11 blocked shots. Chris Bosh scored a game-high 24 points on nine-of-13 shooting, Beno Udrih had a double-double with 11 points and 11 helpers, and Tyler Johnson came in off the bench for 15 points, four boards and four assists.
Miami didn't make it easy on themselves with a slow first quarter which would see the team hit just nine-of-22 shots (40.9%) while allowing Denver to hit 12-of-18 (66.7%), including a perfect four-for-four from beyond the arc. Emmanuel Mudiay came off the bench to score eight points in just four minutes, and Gary Harris had nine as Denver ended the first 12 minutes with a 31-20 lead.
Denver widened the gap with another 31 points in the second quarter, and headed to the locker room with a 16-point lead. Considering Miami's performance in the last few third quarters, things were looking pretty grim. The Heat fell further behind due mostly to fouling the heck out of Danilo Gallinari and Mudiay, who combined to hit all nine of their foul shots through the frame. Miami made 10-of-20 shots, while the Nuggets hit eight-of-18. After 24 minutes, the Heat didn't have a single player in double digits, and Gerald Green's minus-1 was Miami's highest plus-minus player.
Everything changed in the third quarter, which was as good for Miami as it was bad for the Nuggets. Hassan Whiteside had nine points with six rebounds and five blocked shots, as the Heat made 12-of-20 shots. Denver only made five field goals through the period, in 21 tries (23.8%). None of the Nuggets had more than one. The quarter would end with Miami trailing by only two points, at 78-76. The Heat did just enough to get on top and stay there through the final 12 minutes, outscoring Denver 22-17 to end the game with a 98-95 victory.
Luol Deng scored 12 points with five rebounds to add to the cause, and Justise Winslow scored eight points on three-of-five shooting. Whiteside's triple-double, the second for him this season (with the first one coming on November 17th against the Minnesota Timberwolves), increases his league leading shot-block count to a staggering 151, or 3.97 per game. OKC's Serge Ibaka is next down the leaderboard, with 94. To give that a little perspective, even if Whiteside does not play another game this season, he would still have an outside chance of claiming the NBA's shot block title.
Miami managed to avoid losing a fourth consecutive game, and finish up their road trip on Sunday evening against the Oklahoma City Thunder. For more on tonight's game, check out Denver Stiffs. Welcome to Loud City has more on the Thunder.