Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic totaled 27 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds against the Miami Heat on Thursday in Denver. Photo by Bob Pearson/EPA-EFE
June 1 (UPI) -- Jamal Murray hit shots from everywhere early on, before Nikola Jokic finished off the Miami Heat with a hot fourth quarter, leading the Denver Nuggets to a 104-93 win in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday in Denver.
Jokic scored 12 of his 27 points over the final 12 minutes of the victory at Ball Arena. Murray scored 18 of his 26 points over the first 24 minutes of Game 1.
"We are just reading the game," Murray told reporters. "We are just trying to find the open man, find the best shot and find the mismatch. We do that throughout the game.
"It's hard to guard everybody instead of one or two guys. We make you be locked in on defense throughout the game."
The top-seeded Nuggets outscored the No. 8 Heat 46-38 in the paint and led by as many as 24 points. They made 51.3% of their shots, while holding the Heat to 40.6%. The Heat attempted just two free throws, the fewest in NBA playoffs history.
"We did not want them coming in here and taking control of the series on our home court," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven game series will be Sunday in Denver.
The Nuggets made nearly 60% of their shots in the first quarter and carried a 29-20 edge into the second. Forward Aaron Gordon scored 12 points over the first 12 minutes. The Nuggets outscored the Heat 20-6 in the paint early on.
Murray scored 10 points in the second and the Nuggets outscored the Heat 30-22 in the frame to carry a 59-42 lead into halftime.
The Heat opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run, cutting the deficit to 10. The Nuggets responded with a 16-5 run later to push the advantage to two dozen points. They led 84-63 to start the fourth quarter.
The Heat started the final quarter on an 11-0 run, cutting the deficit to 10. They later went on another run to trim the Nuggets lead to nine points, but did not get closer down the stretch. They outscored the Nuggets 30-20 over the final 12 minutes.
"The result in the second half was much better," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "When you get to this level, it has to be complete games."
Heat center Bam Adebayo totaled 26 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Guard Gabe Vincent and forward Haywood Highsmith scored 19 and 18 points, respectively. Forward Jimmy Butler scored just 13 points.
"It's a long series," Vincent said. "Adjustments will be made and we will learn from this loss."
Jokic logged 14 assists and 10 rebounds, in addition to his game-high point total. Murray chipped in 10 assists and six rebounds. Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. totaled 14 points and 12 rebounds in the victory.
Game 2 will tip off at 8 p.m. EDT Sunday at Ball Arena and air on ABC.