The Nuggets got their groove back. Their swagger, too.
Denver used a 16-0 run in the third quarter and monster nights from Nikola Jokic, Malik Beasley and Monte Morris to whup the Miami Heat at their own game — the 3-ball — in a 103-87 victory Monday night at the Pepsi Center, snapping a three-game losing streak and holding on to the No. 2 slot in the Western Conference with one game remaining before the All-Star break.
Miami came in tied for ninth in the league in treys per contest (11.6), while the Nuggets (38-18) ranked 17th in 3-pointers allowed (11.2) after a winless three-game road trip that saw them give up an average of 15 3s to Detroit, Brooklyn and Philadelphia.
A return to the Mile High City — it was the Nuggets’ first appearance at the Pepsi Center since Feb. 1 — flipped that script, as the hosts racked up their 24th win in 28 home contests.
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The Heat (25-30) was limited to just nine makes from beyond the arc on 33 attempts, setting the tone for the first Nuggets sweep of Miami since the 2008-09 season.
The third quarter proved to be the keeper, on both ends of the floor. Mason Plumlee provided the spark early in the second half by swatting Hassan Whiteside’s shot into the Nuggets bench with 8:27 to go in the period. A minute later, Plumlee’s two-handed slam off the alley-oop put the Nuggets back up six, at 63-57, and kept the run going in earnest.
The Nuggets connected on 4-of-9 from beyond the arc in the third period, while the Heat was 1-for-5.
If you like your ball YMCA rec style, the first half was for you. Loose balls. Loopy passes. Loopier shots. Missed dunks. Bodies all over the floor.
Coming off an 0-3 road swing, coach Michael Malone stressed defense — or a return to some semblance of it — publicly and privately the previous two days. So when the Nuggets turned it over twice in the first 47 seconds and saw the Heat race to a 4-0 edge, the coach wasn’t pleased, calling timeout to immediately read his team the riot act.
His team got the message, loud and clear. The Nuggets, who host the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night to finish off the pre-All Star Game part of the season, closed out the first period on a 13-6 run thanks to 13 points off the bench from Morris in that quarter alone.
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Source:: The Denver Post – Sports