Heat-Nuggets Preview

The Miami Heat may again be without LeBron James on Monday night

when they visit the Denver Nuggets.

But given the way they played without him – and the Nuggets’

recent tailspin – it might not keep Miami from improving its

already impressive record against Western Conference foes.

James missed his first game of season Saturday against Portland

after injuring his right groin in Friday’s overtime loss in

Sacramento. He warmed up prior to the game but was declared

inactive and is considered day-to-day.

“We were thinking health first and big picture. He understood,”

coach Erik Spoelstra said of James, who leads the team with 25.4

points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. James’ 59.2

field-goal percentage also ranks fourth in the NBA.

“When he went out there he knew he wouldn’t be able to push it,”

Spoelstra said.

Regardless, Miami (23-7) got a Chris Bosh 3-pointer with 0.5

seconds left for a 108-107 victory – the Heat’s seventh in eight

games – over the Trail Blazers. Bosh was 3 of 3 from long distance

on the night and finished with a season-high 37 points to go with

10 rebounds for his second double-double in three games – matching

his total from the previous 26 contests.

“My call at the end of the game was much more conservative,”

said Spoelstra, whose squad is now 8-1 against West teams. “I drew

something up to get him on the move and he said, `No, I want it for

the 3.’ So he overruled it and became a prophet.”

Bosh’s 2012-13 season high of 40 points came in a win over

Denver on Nov. 3, 2012.

Miami improved to 8-7 all-time without James, who is averaging

32.2 points and 8.8 assists over his last six games versus

Denver.

The Nuggets (14-15) are trying to avoid losing a seventh

straight game for the first time since an eight-game skid from

April 1-16, 2003. But they haven’t showed much to believe their

slide will end against the Heat after allowing Memphis to shoot

51.6 percent from the field in a 120-99 road loss Saturday.

Coach Brian Shaw’s club surrendered a season-high 65 second-half

points.

“There are a lot of things that we can take away from this game,

and the five games before that,” Wilson Chandler said. “If we want

to win, we have to play harder, that’s what is all comes down

to.”

Even with Kenneth Faried returning after missing two games with

a sprained ankle, Denver was completely dominated on the glass,

getting outrebounded 46-25 and giving up 20 second-chance

points.

“We have to do something,” Chandler told the team’s website. “We

have to get our minds right because we have a good team coming in

Monday.”

Denver had won 10 in a row at home versus Miami until a 98-93

loss on Nov. 15, 2012. Nuggets leading scorer Ty Lawson (17.5 ppg)

was 0 for 7 with zero points.