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GAME RECAP: Heat lose in closing moments to Nuggets, 103-99

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The Miami Heat fell short in a game they could have won.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat lost to the Denver Nuggets 103-99 in the closing seconds and fall back under .500 at 19-20 on the season.

This one stung a little.

The first half was sparked by a 2nd quarter run led by Dion Waiters. Waiters, making his second appearance since returning from a year-long absence, played really well. So well, that he made his presence known from the moment he was in. The Heat out-scored the Nuggets by nine in that quarter.

The Heat used a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter to create a lead, but Denver went on their own run and eventually an 8-0 late run to take a 99-95 lead. But the Heat tied it with 23 seconds left with a Bam Adebayo interior shot. After that, Nikola Jokic hit a tough shot in the lane for the lead with 2.4 seconds left.

Then the Heat turned the ball over with a chance to tie or win when Kelly Olynyk throw a lob on the inbounds pass to Josh Richardson and it went right over his head. It was a disappointing loss to what was a really good game.

Miami played 10 players 16 minutes or more — a pretty masterful job by coach Erik Spoelstra. Seven players scored in double figures with the top 3 scorers coming off the bench, led by Dion Waiters with 15 points.

In fact, this was the return game for Dion Waiters. He’s officially back.

One of the biggest stories of the game was the Dwyane Wade-Dion Waiters backcourt combo that got some run in this game. It was a back and forth attack from those two at times and it gave some glimpses of potential deadly offensive opportunities for the Heat. Bam Adebayo was a beneficiary of a lot of their penetration.

In the end, the Heat just couldn’t overcome a few mistakes, mismatches, a bad call by the ref, and some tricky...maybe lucky shots by Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets are a good team, and the Heat could have won this game, it just didn’t go their way.

The Heat host the Boston Celtics on Thursday.