The Nuggets were in control of the matchup for most of Game 2, but coming down the stretch the Heat caught fire and soared to an impressive win at Ball Arena, Denver.
Erik Spoelstra’s team outscored the Nuggets 36-25 in the final 12 minutes to seal the win on the road and to take the home advantage back to Miami.
Prior to Game 2, Denver was 11-0 in the postseason when leading by double-digit points, and 37-1 this season when sporting at least an eight-point lead entering the fourth quarter, but Heat never-say-die attitude got them back in the game.
“During the fourth quarter, our guys love to compete,” said head coach Spoelstra. “They love to put themselves out there in those moments of truth.”
The Heat coach added that the difficulties Miami has faced throughout the year have helped power them to gritty victories, as they become the most successful No. 8 seed in NBA postseason history.
Despite the Heat’s comeback victory in Game 2, Nuggets star Nikola Jokić delivered another vintage performance – something to be expected nowadays.
The two-time MVP dropped 41 points to go with 11 rebounds as he continued a record-breaking postseason.
Following Sunday’s game, Jokić became the first ever center to record 500+ points and 100+ assists in a single postseason, adding to his already incredible résumé.
The Serbian center only recorded four assists in Game 2, but Nuggets head coach Michael Malone was not bothered by this uncharacteristic low.
“Whether it’s 41 points, only four assists, or it’s 25 points and 15 assists, Nikola, one thing I trust about him is he’s going to make the right read time and time again,” Malone explained.
Max Strus drilled his first three triples in the early going after missing all 10 of his attempts from the field in Game 1. Gabe Vincent, the Heat’s standout point guard, connected on 4-of-6 from beyond the arc en route to team-high 23 points. Duncan Robinson scored 8 points in the first minute of the fourth quarter to help Miami reverse the first-half story of bench units clawing away at a lead and flipping the game’s script. Miami missed just one shot in the first 7 minutes of the final frame, storming on a 12-4 run capped by Bam Adebayo’s and-1 layup, which matched the Heat’s largest lead from the first quarter, a 104-93 advantage.
Jokić still powered his way to points, but there was little rhythm to a Nuggets scoring effort that has felt so balanced and effortless throughout much of this postseason. Jamal Murray spearheaded a second-quarter spurt from Denver while Jokić rested and hit a flurry of 3-pointers in crunch time, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope posted a quiet 6 points on just four attempts for the game. Michael Porter Jr., the 2018 lottery pick who has overcome issues with shot selection and defensive attentiveness, step-backed his way into several questionable looks and got lost on a handful of Vincent’s wide-open looks from deep, losing his assignment in the throws of Miami’s actions.
As was rumored to be coming, former Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts will join Adrian Griffin’s staff with the Milwaukee Bucks. This is a smart hire, putting an experienced coach known for creative offense next to the rookie coach on a contending team. With the Bucks getting older and more expensive quickly — 35-year-old Brook Lopez is a free agent this summer — the Bucks don’t have time for a rookie coach to figure things out on the job.
Kevin Young will stay in Phoenix on Frank Vogel’s staff after new owner Mat Ishbia made him the highest-paid assistant in the league at $2 million a year, reports Adrian Wojnarowski. Devin Booker reportedly backed Young to get the head coaching job, although how hard Booker pushed is up for debate. Keeping Young on staff — likely in an offensive coordinator role — next to the defensive-minded Vogel could be a good fit.
How many points did Nikola Jokic score?
Jokic led all scorers with 41 points in the game, but it wasn’t enough for the Nuggets to take a 2-0 series lead over the Heat. He scored 18 in the third quarter but was held in check by Miami in the fourth. He also finished with just four assists. Jokic’s 68 combined points in Games 1 and 2 are tied with Kevin Durant for the third-most points in the first two games of an NBA Finals series in history.
How many points did Jimmy Butler score?
Butler finished with 21 points and connected on some clutch buckets in Miami’s fourth-quarter comeback win. He added nine assists and pulled down four rebounds. His 21 points were tied with Bam Adebayo for second-most for the Heat, two points shy of Gabe Vincent’s team-high 23 points.
The two-time MVP achieved the mark toward the end of the third quarter in Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. He was leading the Nuggets with 31 points and added three assists at the time. He had 18 points in the third quarter alone.
Jokic made history earlier in the postseason when he broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record with his eighth triple-double of the playoffs. In Game 4 of the Western Conference finals — when the Nuggets swept the Los Angeles Lakers — he finished with 30 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists and was named the series MVP.
In Game 1 of the NBA Finals when Denver beat the Heat 104-93, Jokic finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists. He didn’t make his first basket, which was also his first shot attempt, until the seconds of the first quarter.
German pitched a perfect first and third and worked around a two-out double in the second. He kept cruising the second time around, retiring the top of the order easily in the fourth.
German allowed a two-out single to Miguel Vargas in the fifth, and was a bit shaken up afterwards. After being visited by Aaron Boone and trainers and throwing a few warmup pitches, the righty was good to go. Kyle Higashioka caught Vargas trying to steal second to end the inning.
LA received a generous non-call on a check-swing, resulting in a James Outman walk with one out in the sixth. That was no bother for the locked-in German though, as he rebounded to strike out Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman to end the inning.
Dodgers right-hander Bobby Miller was matching German inning-for-inning. The rookie cruised through the Yankees lineup, minus Aaron Judge, who was out with a sore toe.
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