Miami Heat roar back in Game 2 to tie Denver Nuggets in NBA Finals

DENVER (AP) — Facing a 2-0 deficit in the NBA Finals as visitors in a hostile arena where no road team has won in more than two months, the Miami Heat decided to do what they’ve done all postseason. .

They found a way. Against all odds. Again.

The Heat tied the NBA Finals and had to overcome Nikola Jokic’s 41-point effort to do it. Gabe Vincent scored 23 points, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo each had 21 points as the Heat beat the Denver Nuggets 111-108 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

“Our guys are competitors,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They love these kinds of moments.”

Obviously.

They’re down 15 points, eight down to fourth, and those numbers mean they’re going to lose. Denver is 11-0 in these playoffs any time it’s led by double digits in a game and is 37-1 overall this season with at least eight leads heading into the fourth.

Didn’t care about the heat. They outscored Denver 17-5 in the first 3:17 of the fourth, eventually scoring 12, then fumbled much of it and had to hold on to Jamaal Murray’s 3-point attempt as time expired.

“It’s the final,” Adebayo said. “We pulled one out.”

Game 3 is Wednesday in Miami.

Max Strus scored 14 and Duncan Robinson scored 10 — all in the fourth — for the Heat, who had a big early lead and then trailed by as many as 15. He had no answer for Jokic, who was 16 of 28. Floor, the last of those shots was a 4-footer with 36 seconds left to get the Nuggets within three.

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Denver chose not to foul on consecutive Miami possessions, and it paid off. Butler missed a 3, and with a chance to tie, Murray missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“I resisted it,” Butler said. “So glad he missed it.”

Denver lost at home for the first time since March 30, and for the first time in 10 home playoff games this year. Just as he did after the Game 1 win, Nuggets coach Michael Malone sounded the alarm after the Game 2 loss.

“Let’s talk about effort,” Malone said. “I mean, it’s the NBA Finals and we’re talking about effort. That’s my big concern. You probably thought I was making some storyline after Game 1 when I said we didn’t play well. We didn’t play well. … This isn’t the preseason. It’s routine. Not the season. It’s the NBA Finals.

Murray had 18 points and 10 assists for Denver, while Aaron Gordon had 12 points and Bruce Brown had 11 points.

“They played hard, like I said, it was very disciplined,” Murray said. “It’s defeat when you give up foul after foul, it’s not them hitting you, it’s you giving them open dunks or open shots. It’s hard to recover from that.”

Strus, who was 0 for 10 in Game 1, had four 3-pointers in the first quarter of Game 2. Butler’s jumper with 4:56 left in the opening quarter gave Miami a 21-10 lead. lead any opponent Denver has built so far in these playoffs.

In a flash, it’s gone — and then some.

The Nuggets outscored Miami 32-11 over the next 9 minutes, turning a double-digit deficit into a double-digit lead with a complete 3-point barrage.

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In a 70-second stretch early in the second quarter, Denver hit four 3s — more points than Miami had in that entire 9-minute stretch — and they came from four different players: Brown, then Jeff Green, then Murray, then Gordon.

Boom, boom, boom and boom. Murray had five straight points to end the flurry, which ended with Denver leading 44-32. Everything seemed to be going Denver’s way.

Miami insisted otherwise. And for the 44th time this season, the Heat have won a game by five points or less. None of them are bigger than this.

“When it comes down to the wire, we’re weirdly comfortable,” Vincent said.

Tips

Heat: Miami changed its starting lineup, with Kevin Love returning to the starting five and Caleb Martin — who missed Saturday’s practice with an illness — coming off the bench. … The Heat won their 13th of these playoffs, breaking a tie with the New York Knicks for 8th in 1999.

Nuggets: Jokic became the 14th different player in NBA history to score at least 41 points in a Finals loss. … Denver hasn’t lost a game since May 7 – four weeks ago. … Nuggets legends Alex English, LaPonzo Ellis (who actually finished his NBA career with Miami) and David Thompson were among those in attendance.

Hero update

Injured Heat guard Tyler Herro went 2-on-2 on Saturday, continuing his bid to come back from a broken hand at some point in these Finals — but not out. Herro suffered the injury in the first half of the 1st round game at Milwaukee. His status for Game 3 is unclear.

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Extension speech

Commissioner Adam Silver told NBA TV before the game that with the new collective bargaining agreement approved, negotiations for the next media rights deal are now the priority — and how expansion talks will come after that.

Silver said he expects media contract negotiations to begin “in earnest next spring.” After that, the next item on the to-do list will be plans to add owners.

“There’s nothing specific in mind right now,” Silver said. “But I think it makes sense over time if you’re a successful organization that continues to grow. There’s no doubt that there are a lot of great cities in the NBA that we’re interested in.

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