Nikola Jokic leads Denver Nuggets over Miami Heat, Mitchell sparks Cleveland Cavaliers

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Last Updated: February 14, 2023, 11:52 IST

Nuggets held on to advantage lead for majority of the second half. (AP Photo)

Nuggets held on to advantage lead for majority of the second half. (AP Photo)

Nikola Jokic scored 27 points as Denver Nuggets defeated Miami Heat

Nikola Jokic narrowly missed out on his 21st triple double of the season as the Denver Nuggets battled to a 112-108 road victory over the Miami Heat on Monday.

Two-time NBA MVP Jokic finished with 27 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as Denver stretched their lead at the top of the Western Conference to five games.

Denver, who improved to 40-18,  trailed by nine points after a shaky first quarter but roared back in the second to outscore Miami 38-26 for a slender 65-62 lead at the break.

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The Nuggets held on to advantage lead for most of the second half and although Miami got within three points in the final minute, Denver held on for victory.

While Jokic led the scoring, Denver’s balanced offense spread the points around with seven players finishing in double figures and sharing 34 assists between them.

Michael Porter Jr. scored 17 points while Bruce Brown had 16.

“I think we like to play for each other,” Jokic said afterwards. “We try to find open guys and we’re just going to work for the best shot possible.

“The team buys into that and that’s why I think we have so many assists,” the Serbian star said.

Jimmy Butler led Miami’s scorers with 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists while Max Strus had 23 points and Bam Adebayo 19.

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Elsewhere on Monday, Donovan Mitchell erupted for 41 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers bagged their seventh straight win with a gritty 117-109 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

Mitchell’s sixth 40-point game of the season helped the Cavs tighten their grip on fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Cleveland are now 38-22 for the season, leading fifth-placed Brooklyn, who were thumped 124-106 by the New York Knicks earlier Monday.

Jarrett Allen (17 points) and Darius Garland (16) were Cleveland’s other principal scorers while Keldon Johnson led the scoring for San Antonio with 25 points.

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“The biggest thing is just continuing to fight,” Mitchell said afterwards.  “We didn’t play our best basketball, regardless of how San Antonio’s been playing, they made it tough on us.

“You’ve got to give the credit for their performance but at the end of the day we found a way to execute and that’s big time.”

Cleveland will now look ahead to their final game before this weekend’s All-Star break, with a road clash against Eastern Conference rivals Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Mitchell believes the 76ers will have added motivation after the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl defeat to Kansas City on Sunday.

“That’s going to be a playoff game in a hostile environment,” Mitchell said.

“They just lost the Super Bowl so they’ll probably be a little bit fired up over there.

“We’ve got to go out there and hold our own and play the basketball we’ve been playing.”

The Sixers meanwhile warmed up for their date with the Cavs with a 123-104  blowout over the Houston Rockets earlier Monday.

James Harden led the Sixers scoring against his former club with 28 points and 10 assists while Tyrese Maxey impressed with 26 points off the bench after making 4-of-8 from beyond the arc.

Sixers talisman Joel Embiid added 23 points while Jalen Green led the Rockets with 29 points.

The Sixers are just one game ahead of the in-form Cavaliers heading into Wednesday’s game.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)

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