Miami Heat steal Game 2 from Denver Nuggets, tie NBA Finals

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (R) totaled 21 points and nine assists in a win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday in Denver. Photo by Bob Pearson/EPA-EFE
Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (R) totaled 21 points and nine assists in a win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday in Denver. Photo by Bob Pearson/EPA-EFE

June 4 (UPI) -- Miami Heat players watched an early edge evaporate, but rekindled a simmering shooting stroke in the fourth quarter for a Game 2 comeback win over the Denver Nuggets, tying the NBA Finals 1-1 on Sunday in Denver.

The Heat, who trailed by as many as 15 points, made 17 of 35 3-point attempts in the 111-108 victory at Ball Arena. Point guard Gabe Vincent totaled a team-high 23 points. Forward Jimmy Butler and center Bam Adebayo scored 21 points each.


Forward Duncan Robinson scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter to spark the late Heat rally.

"We have a lot of belief as a group," Robinson told reporters. "We liked the flow of the game and how it was going. We felt like we really had it on our terms and were making it difficult for them. ... We just needed to come out with a sense of urgency in the fourth.


"It was 'now or never.'"

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic scored a game-high 41 points, with 11 rebounds, but totaled five turnovers and just four assists. The Nuggets lost despite shooting 52% from the field, including 39.3% (11 of 28) from 3-point range.

"This is a really good offensive team," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the Nuggets. "They force you to have to compete at a super high level, but you have to do it with a brain and with discipline.

"Our guys love to compete. They love to put themselves out there in those moments of truth."

Game 3 of the best-of-seven game series will be Wednesday in Miami.

"This is the NBA Finals and we are talking about effort," Nuggets coach Mike Malone said.

"That's a huge concern of mine. ... This is not the preseason or regular season. This is the NBA Finals. That to me is really perplexing and disappointing."

The Heat started a game with a 7-0 run and went on to push that early advantage to 11. The Nuggets ended the quarter with a 13-5 run, cutting the deficit to 26-23 to start the second.


Heat guard Max Strus, who went 0 for 10 in Game 1, scored 12 points over the first 12 minutes. He made four 3-pointers in the first quarter.

The Nuggets went on a 16-3 to start the second, taking a 39-29 edge 9:20 before halftime. They outscored the Heat 34-25 in the frame and led 57-51 at the break.

The Heat went on a 13-7 run to start the third quarter. They tied the game several times, but could not regain the lead. The Nuggets carried an 83-75 edge into the fourth.

Jokic scored 18 points in the third, including the Nuggets' final eight points of the quarter.

The Heat started the fourth with a 15-2 run to take an 90-85 edge. Robinson scored all 10 of his points in that stretch.

The Nuggets cut the Heat lead to three points several times down the stretch. The Heat used a 12-4 run to push the advantage to 11 points with 4:53 remaining and never looked back.

The Nuggets went on an 11-2 run to cut the deficit to 109-106 with 1:09 remaining. Adebayo then made two free throws to push the lead back to five with 48.3 seconds left. Jokic answered with a jump shot, cutting the deficit to 111-108 with 35.6 seconds remaining.


Nuggets guard Jamal Murray then missed a final 3-point attempt with 1.9 seconds remaining.

Jokic scored 28 points in the second half. Murray scored 10 of his 18 points in the second half. Adebayo led the Heat with 15 points over the final 24 minutes.

Strus recorded 14 points and six assists for the Heat.

Game 3 will tip off at 8:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday at the Kaseya Center. Game 4 will be Friday in Miami. The series will air on ABC.

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