The Denver Nuggets had been on a 3-game losing streak until they beat the Miami Heat 103-87 to give Miami a third consecutive loss, all coming since trading away Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington.
The Heat and Nuggets played a great first half, but a huge run in the third quarter sealed any shot at them coming back, trailing by 13 heading to the fourth. The Heat were on the end of a back-to-back and in mile high city, it seemed they just couldn’t do enough.
The Heat, who scored 118 points the night before, managed just 87 points in what has become more of a normal thing for this team — dipping below 90 points. That’s not a good thing in today’s NBA. This was a game that it became clear, to me at least, that the Heat really need back Goran Dragic. The offense can stabilize so much better with him playing 30 minutes.
Justise Winslow has been doing a great job but he can’t do the things Dragic does. When the Heat struggle on offense, it reminds me that they still could use a true point guard on this roster for some nights.
But for this game, the struggle was with turnovers and miscues. The Heat had 19 turnovers (not a recipe for success) and shot 27% from three. That combination will create a bad distance of separation against any opponent.
For Miami, they just couldn’t get any one or two players going. Richardson, who had a career high 37 points the night before, managed just 12 points. The Heat were led in scoring by Justise Winslow who had 15 points.
Nikola Jokic had 23 points and 12 rebounds and played a solid game. The Nuggets didn’t do anything that the Heat couldn’t handle, it was breakdowns and a collapse in the third that made the difference. Malik Beasley also had 20 points for Denver.
The Heat fall to 25-30, out of a playoff spot in the East and still have one more game on the road before the All-Star break on Wednesday in Dallas. That could be a crucial moral boost for this team before breaking for a week.