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Heat fight off Nuggets, earn 111-108 victory in Game 2
This was Miami's first win in Denver in nearly 2,400 days. No, that's not a typo.
The Miami Heat fended off a late Denver Nuggets comeback in Game 2 of the 2023 NBA Finals, but ended up on top with a 111-108 win to knot the series at one apiece.
Miami led 107-95 with 3:15 left, but an Aaron Gordon above-the-break 3-pointer followed by Jamal Murray’s stepback 3-pointer cut it to six.
Jimmy Butler widened the advantage to eight — 109-101 — but two more 3-pointers from Bruce Brown and Murray (on a second chance look) trimmed it to three with just over a minute left. Bam Adebayo was able to get to the foul line, sinking two free-throws, though Nikola Jokic a six-foot turnaround jumper for his 16th-and-final bucket of the night, cutting it back to three.
While Butler’s ensuing pull-up 3-pointer rimmed out, his late contest on Murray’s game-typing 3-point was good enough for it to miss as time expired, rewarding the Heat their first victory inside Ball Arena since Nov. 30, 2016 — nearly 2,400 days ago.
Sunday represented a much better egalitarian scoring effort for Miami, who shot 48.7 percent and 17-of-35 (48.6 percent) from distance; it had five double-figure scorers, including three with at least 20 points.
Gabe Vincent tallied 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Butler and Adebayo had 21 points apiece; Butler dazzled with nine assists while Adebayo hauled in nine boards and swatted two shots.
Max Strus had 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting from deep while Duncan Robinson finished with 10 — all coming in a 1:50 span to open the fourth quarter after Miami entered down by eight. He scored 10 of the team’s first 13 to help Miami take an 86-85 lead, one they failed to relinquish.
Denver shot 52.0 percent and 39.3 (11-28) from 3-point range. Jokic finished with 41 points and 11 rebounds, canning 16 of his 28 shots. Murray added an 18-point, 10-assist double-double on 7-of-15 shooting with three triples.
Sunday marked the Nuggets’ first home loss since March 30. It also snapped a seven-game matchup losing streak for Miami, who previously didn’t have a victory against the Nuggets since Aug. 1, 2020, their first game inside the infamous NBA Bubble.
The Heat, who trailed by 15 midway through the second quarter courtesy of a 33-9 explosion over a nine-minute span, has now won seven of their 13 playoff games after trailing by double figures, tying a playoff record over the last 25 years.
Now, the Heat head back to the 305 tied at one apiece. It’s now a best-of-five with three inside Kaseya Center.