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HEAT 98 - Nuggets 93 Game Recap

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(Photo Credit: Garrett Ellwood)

The Miami HEAT defeated the Denver Nuggets 98-93 Thursday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The HEAT improved to 7-3 on the season and finish the six-game road trip Saturday in Phoenix. Here's a quick recap of tonight's victory:

Impact Performance of the Night: There’s only one choice tonight. LeBron James scored 27 points, dished out 12 assists, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots. Those were all team-highs. He closed the Nuggets out with jumpers before finding Norris Cole in the corner on what ended up being the clincher. Honorable mention to Shane Battier and Mike Miller who combined for 30 points on 10-for-15 shooting from three-point range. The space they provided allowed the James to work in the post.

The Deciding Run: LeBron James jumpers sandwiched a Shane Battier three-pointer between 5:18 and 2:34 of the forth quarter. Those jumpers gave the HEAT the cushion they needed to hang on for the victory.

Play of the Game: After the Nuggets closed the gap to one late in the fourth, Ray Allen and Danilo Gallinari traded three-point misses. With just under a minute left, LeBron James drew the attention of Andre Miller, who committed help in the paint, leaving Norris Cole open in the corner. James found Cole, who had struggled from the floor for most of the game. Cole calmly drained the three-pointer, cementing the HEAT’s first victory in Denver in over a decade.

Efficiency Rating: Offensive Efficiency: 108.8; Defensive Efficiency: 104.1

Trend to Watch: The victory over the Nuggets brought along the return of the three-ball for the HEAT. The HEAT shot 48.1 (13-27) percent from three and threes made up 35 percent of HEAT field goal attempts. No type of shot attempt correlates with offensive output more than threes. Three-point shot attempts even correlate more with offensive output than three-point percentage. Shooting lots of threes for the HEAT opens up the floor for LeBron James and others to attack inside. When shots are pouring in from the outside, the HEAT are tough to stop.

The Takeaway: There are many games on the NBA slate more dreaded than the second night of a back-to-back in Denver. The HEAT have struggled in the Mile High City, losing their last 10 games to the Nuggets in Denver. This win means as much as a mid-November game can. By winning the back end of the back-to-back in Denver, the HEAT accomplished something that only a handful of teams have done the last decade. Perhaps even more impressive, this was the HEAT’s fourth game in five nights. Coach Spoelsta and the players can be proud their performance.

Notes: Dwyane Wade missed the game with a sore foot. Mario Chalmers suffered a triceps injury and left the game in the first half. Wade and Dexter Pittman were inactive.

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