NBA Finals: Miami Heat roar back in fourth quarter to level series against Denver Nuggets
Miami Heat overcame a monster 41-point effort from Nikola Jokic to level their NBA Finals series with the Denver Nuggets. “Our guys are competitors,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They love these kinds of moments.”
Miami Heat overcame a monster 41-point effort from Nikola Jokic to level the NBA Finals with Denver Nuggets after Game Two.
Gabe Vincent scored 23 points, and Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo each had 21 as Miami notched a 111-108 victory on Sunday night.
The heroic feat was not lost on head coach Erik Spoelstra, who said: “Our guys are competitors, they love these kinds of moments”.
His team were down by as many as 15 points, down eight going into the fourth, and seemed to be careening towards another defeat. Denver were 11-0 in the postseason when leading by double digits, and they surely weren’t going to let up now.
The Heat, however, didn’t care. They outscored the Nuggets 17-5 in the first 3:17 of the fourth to take the lead. Butler made a jumper with 4:56 left in the opening quarter to put Miami up 21-10, tying the second-biggest lead any opponent had built in Denver so far in these playoffs.
In a flash, it was gone – and then some.
The Nuggets outscored Miami 32-11 over the next nine minutes, turning the double-digit deficit into a double-digit lead thanks to an absolute three-point barrage.
In a 70-second span early in the second quarter, Denver got four three-pointers – more points than Miami got in that entire nine-minute stretch – and they came from four different players: Brown, then Jeff Green, then Jamal Murray, then Aaron Gordon.
Boom, boom, boom, and boom. Murray had five straight points to end the flurry, Denver led 44-32 when it was over, and were rocketing towards a second win.
Miami insisted otherwise. Indeed, for the 44th time this season, the Heat won a game by five points or less. None of them bigger than this one.
The defeat for Denver is a telling one; they have lost at home for the first time since March 30, and for the first time in 10 home playoff games this year. And just as he did after a Game One win, Nuggets coach Michael Malone sounded the alarm.
“Let’s talk about effort,” Malone said. “I mean, this is the NBA Finals and we’re talking about effort. That’s a huge concern of mine.
“You guys probably thought I was just making up some storyline after Game One when I said we didn’t play well. We didn’t play well. This is not the preseason. This is not the regular season. This is the NBA Finals.”