Nikola Jokic’s numbers were big, as usual.
And “Joker’s” shooting touch at the end was perfectly soft.
Jokic had his fourth triple-double of the season — 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists — and his high-arching shot in the lane with 2.4 seconds left lifted the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets to a 103-99 win over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.
“That’s my kind of shot,” said Jokic, who now has 20 career triple-doubles. “I love floaters, all kind of floaters.”
Jamal Murray had 18 points, Trey Lyles added 15, Paul Millsap had 12 and Torrey Craig finished with 11 points and 16 rebounds for the Nuggets, who outrebounded Miami 50-38 and had a 23-11 edge in second-chance points.
It came on the second night of a back-to-back that started Monday in Houston, and without Gary Harris — sidelined with left hamstring tightness.
“Hell of a win,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I don’t know if it’s a statement win or not. But it’s a win where we had every reason to use an excuse for the loss. And we don’t want to be a team that makes excuses. We want to be a team that finds ways when everything is stacked against us.”
Dion Waiters returned to the lineup and scored 15 points for Miami, which got 13 apiece from Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk, and 12 each from Hassan Whiteside, Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow.
It was Waiters’ first time playing in Miami since December 2017. He missed more than a year after ankle surgery.
“A healthy me, that’s all I can ask for,” Waiters said. “I can just go out there and play. I don’t have to worry about anything.”
A back-and-forth fourth quarter saw the Heat get down by six, then take a six-point lead after a 12-0 run, and rally from four points down to tie it in the last 2 minutes — with Adebayo getting both of those baskets, the second one coming with 22.9 seconds left.
That’s when Denver went to Jokic, who took a bounce pass from Murray and dropped in what became the biggest shot of the night. Miami’s chance to tie went awry when Olynyk’s lob for Richardson on the inbounds attempt sailed out of bounds — just the sixth Heat turnover, yet the most costly one.
“We did enough things to put ourselves in a position to win,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They just made more plays down the stretch. Simple as that.”
Nuggets: Harris went through some efforts to get loose before the game, but was ruled out about an hour before tip-off. Malik Beasley started in his place. … Isaiah Thomas (right hip surgery) went through a shooting session before the game. He hasn’t played yet this season, but got to exchange jerseys with Heat star Dwyane Wade postgame.
Heat: Waiters’ minutes came at the expense of Derrick Jones Jr., who didn’t play. … Miami announced another sellout crowd, which means Thursday’s game against Boston could be the team’s 400th consecutive sellout at home. … The Heat were only 15 for 25 from the foul line.
Nuggets: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, the midpoint of a five-game, seven-night run for Denver.
AROUND THE NBA TUESDAY
–The Toronto Raptors have reclaimed the NBA’s top winning percentage despite struggling against one of the league’s bottom-feeders on Tuesday. Serge Ibaka delivered the winning dunk with 17 seconds remaining and added a big rebound to help the Raptors secure a 104-101 victory over the Hawks. Atlanta had a chance to regain the lead, but Ibaka grabbed a missed shot by Trae Young and fed OG Anunoby for a slam with less than a second remaining. Kawhi Leonard had 31 points for the Raptors, who earned their sixth straight home win and improved to 31-12. Pascal Siakam had 13 points and 10 rebounds to help Toronto withstand John Collins’ 21 points and 14 boards. The Raptors are three percentage points ahead of idle Milwaukee, but the Bucks have four games in hand.
— Rookie Landry Shamet established season highs with eight 3-pointers and 29 points in the 76ers’ 132-115 rout of the Wizards. Joel Embiid had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Philadelphia, which has won four straight and seven of nine.
— Indiana won for the seventh time in eight games as Thaddeus Young scored 26 points and Bojan Bogdanovic had 23 in the Pacers’ 123-115 victory at Cleveland. Victor Oladipo had 17 points for the Pacers, who handed the Cavaliers their 10th consecutive loss.