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Nikola Jokic returns, helps Nuggets end losing streak vs. Heat

Nikola Jokic returns, helps Nuggets end losing streak vs. Heat
Center Nikola Jokic's 24 points helped the Denver Nuggets beat the Miami Heat 120-111 on Monday in Miami. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

MIAMI, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Nikola Jokic returned from a four-game injury absence to total 24 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists in a win over the Miami Heat, snapping the Denver Nuggets' six-game losing streak.

Jokic made 9 of 14 shots in the 120-111 victory Monday at FTX Arena in Miami. Bam Adebayo led the Heat with 24 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.

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Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro, the Heat's Top 2 scorers, missed the game due to injuries.

"We played well," Jokic told reporters. "We had seven players in double figures, so everybody touched it. It was a really good game and a big victory for us."

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The game featured eight lead changes and was tied three times. The Nuggets led by as many as 24 points and scored 18 points off turnovers.

"I can't keep getting off to these slow starts," Adebayo told reporters. "I gotta come out like that from the jump and keep it consistent throughout the game."

The lead switched hands several times through the first quarter, but the Nuggets used a late 12-3 run to take a 32-23 lead into the second frame. Jokic scored nine points through the first 12 minutes.

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The Nuggets outscored the Heat 31-20 in the second quarter to take a 63-43 edge at halftime.

Adebayo scored 15 points in the third quarter and the Heat outscored the Nuggets 35-32 in the frame, but still trailed 95-78 entering the fourth quarter.

Gabe Vincent and Max Strus scored 10 and 11 points, respectively, down the stretch, but the Heat couldn't close the deficit over the final 12 minutes.

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Strus totaled 19 points off the Heat bench. Forward Caleb Martin totaled 18 points in the loss. Heat guard Kyle Lowry totaled 17 points and 14 rebounds.

Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon scored 20 points. Bones Hyland totaled 19 points off the Nuggets bench. Will Barton and Jeff Green totaled 14 and 12 points, respectively, in the win.

"That's a really good team," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Jokic can facilitate and they are extremely well-coached. So you have to be on top of your game. Our defense is better than that. I think the Nuggets played extremely well.

"In those pivotal moments, it seemed like they made every shot and every play."

The Heat (13-8) host the Cleveland Cavaliers (11-10) at 7:30 p.m. EST Wednesday at FTX Arena. The Nuggets (10-10) continue their road trip with a game against the Orlando Magic (4-18) at 7 p.m. EST Wednesday at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.

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