Miami Heat guard Max Strus, center, Denver Nuggets forward Vlatko Cancar, left, and Denver Nuggets guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) go for a loose ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 13, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Heat Stumble in Final Home Game Before All-Star Weekend

Frustrations continue to mount for the Miami Heat following a 112-108 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Jimmy Butler nearly netted a triple-double for Miami with 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Max Strus also stepped up amid Tyler Herro’s absence, racking up 23 points and seven rebounds.

Miami Heat guard Max Strus (31) shoots as Denver Nuggets center Thomas Bryant (13) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 13, 2023, in Miami. Denver won 112-108. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Despite their efforts, however, the Nuggets were still able to prevail while playing without Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic led the way for Denver with 27 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Michael Porter Jr. also chipped in with 17 points and six rebounds, while Bruce Brown stepped up in Murray’s place with 16 points and three assists.

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) drives to the basket as Miami Heat center Orlando Robinson (25) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 13, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

After a considerably quiet trade deadline that saw Miami acquire no new players, the Heat have been relatively shorthanded as of late.

Miami had to roll out a reduced rotation featuring only eight players last night, including 10-day contract addition Jamaree Bouyea.

It remains unclear when (or if) the Heat will return to full strength, but the clock continues to tick for Miami.

With the playoffs just two months away, the Heat sit a mere 0.5 games above play-in spots.

Heat Go Cold in the Second

Butler and center Bam Adebayo got off to strong starts for Miami.

Butler secured six points and five assists in the first quarter alone, while Adebayo scored nine points in the first 12 minutes himself.

A 13-3 run midway through the first put the Heat in control early on. By the end of the quarter, they led 36-27.

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However, in the second quarter, the Miami lead vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

A 10-0 Denver run turned the Heat’s nine-point lead into a one-point deficit. Miami shot 8-for-22 in the second quarter, while Denver went 14-for-18.

Adebayo also slowed down following his offensive surge in the first quarter, only attempting two shots the following period.

Denver earned themselves a three-point halftime lead, 65-62, with Jokic’s 15 points leading the way for the visitors.

Too Little, Too Late

The remaining 24 minutes would go on to be to be a back-and-forth battle, as Butler and Jokic continued their offensive dual.

In the third quarter, Butler put up eight points and Jokic added 10 to his total.

In the fourth quarter, though, it ended up being the “others” who stepped up for both squads.

Strus led the way for Miami with 10 points in the final period, while Christian Braun tallied five for Denver.

While Miami did show some fight late, Denver maintained control as the clock moves toward zeros.

With just 16 seconds left and while trailing by four points, Butler missed a layup that would have made it a two-point game.

The Heat did manage to get the ball back after Jokic knocked it out of bounds, but only to follow the defensive stop with an airball from three.

Braun snagged the rebound, and the Nuggets put the final nail in the Miami’s coffin.

What’s Next

The Heat will return to the hardwood Wednesday at 7:00 p.m., when they take on the new-look Nets in Barclays Center.

About Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer is a third-year student at the University of Florida. He is majoring in Journalism and specializing in Sports and Media.

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