Nikola Jokic’s fourth triple-double of the season — 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists — carried the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets to a 103-99 win over the host Miami Heat on Tuesday night.
Jokic hit the go-ahead shot from the lane with 2.4 seconds left over the arms of backup center Bam Adebayo, who played great defense on the play. But Jokic awkwardly floated his shot over Adebayo and hit nothing but net.
Miami still had a chance to tie or go ahead, but Kelly Olynyk’s in-bounds pass was wild, leading to a turnover — just the Heat’s sixth in the game.
Jamal Murray, who scored 18 points for Denver, then made two free throws with 0.9 seconds left to seal the victory.
Torrey Craig also had a big game for Denver. The unheralded 6-7 forward from South Carolina Upstate had 11 points and a game-high 16 rebounds, also his career high.
Miami reserve guard Dion Waiters had a team-high 15 points, and Heat center Hassan Whiteside had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Adebayo had 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, but he couldn’t stop Jokic on the game’s key play.
Miami shot 25.8 percent on 3-pointers (8-for-31). Worse yet, the Heat, who rank 29th in the league in foul shooting, made just 60 percent from the line (15-of-25).
Denver’s defense led the Nuggets to a 24-18 first-quarter lead, holding Miami to 26.1 percent shooting, including just 1-of-7 on 3-pointers. Trailing by as many as eight points in the second quarter, Miami came charging back to take a 52-49 halftime lead.
Miami led by as many as six points in the third quarter. But Denver rallied to tie the score 76-76 as Trey Lyles hit a pull-up jumper in traffic at the free-throw line with 0.9 seconds left in the period.
There were 12 lead changes in the third quarter, and the game continued on that path in the fourth before Jokic made his crucial shot.