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Third quarter Heat rally falls flat late in 109-82 blowout loss to Nuggets

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Miami gets outscored by 18 in the final quarter.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Miami Heat Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

Still without Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro, the Miami Heat also sat out Goran Dragic with a left groin strain Wednesday night and proceeded to get thoroughly outplayed by the visiting Denver Nuggets in a 109-82 blowout loss.

With three of their four best players sidelined, the Heat needed strong performances from about just everyone left to avoid their fourth consecutive loss. Only Kendrick Nunn, who led the team with 17 points, Bam Adebayo’s 15 points, and reserve Precious Achiuwa with 10 points scored in double figures. They fell behind early with just 12 points in the opening quarter, get within striking distance and the deficit down to just seven with an encouraging 32-16 third quarter showing only to throw it all away in the final quarter.

Meanwhile Denver had their way en route to their fifth straight win and their fourth in a row during their five-game road trip with six players scoring in double-figures, led by Nikola Jokic with a stellar 21 points and 11 rebounds. They led by 25 points and limited the Heat to just 32 points at halftime.

Just about the only good news for the Heat was another good showing by Achiuwa, who also added six rebounds, three assists and three blocks, as well as Nunn, who may be pushed down the rotation soon with the return of Avery Bradley (eight points and two assists in 18 minutes) after missing eight games due to health protocols.

Jimmy Butler missed his ninth game but was able to return to the team and watch the game from the bench — so there’s that. Meanwhile, Herro sat out for the fifth game due to neck spasms. As for the rest of the starters, Kelly Olynyk, Duncan Robinson and KZ Okpala all struggled mightily.

The Heat can turn the page quickly tomorrow when they host the Los Angeles Clippers at 8:00pm.