Heat 96, Nuggets 88

BY foxsports • November 7, 2009

That's just fine with the reigning NBA scoring champion.

Wade scored 22 points, Jermaine O'Neal added 18 and the Heat dealt the Denver Nuggets their first loss of the season, 96-88 on Friday night.

Mario Chalmers scored 16 points, Quentin Richardson added 13 and Udonis Haslem finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, who are 5-1 for only the third time in their 22 seasons and beat Denver for the first time since Dec. 17, 2004.

"As I continue to keep saying, it's going to take that for us to be successful," Wade said of the balanced scoring punch. "I enjoyed it. I really did."

Denver (5-1) got 30 points from Carmelo Anthony, and little from anyone else. Take away Anthony, and the high-powered Nuggets shot only 12 for 35 through the first 36 minutes, getting outscored 14-0 over a 6-minute stretch spanning the second and third quarters.

Reserve Arron Afflalo scored 18 for the Nuggets, who were held more than 27 points below their season average.

"I'm not going to give anyone an 'A' on this one," said Nuggets coach George Karl, who remained tied with Red Auerbach for eighth on the NBA coaching wins list with 938. "We all have to be disappointed on how we showed up."

Making matters worse for Denver, Kenyon Martin got hurt again.

He left in the second quarter with what the team said was a lower left leg contusion. Karl said Martin will likely get further tests Saturday and could be out "a week or two."

"When one person goes down, that's why everybody else gets paid to play," Nuggets guard Anthony Carter said. "Kenyon ain't the whole team."

Wade started slowly, and it didn't matter. He missed his first five shots, not getting one to drop until 1:34 remained in the first half. His jumper with 4:12 left in the third gave him 11 points, extending his Heat-record streak of consecutive double-digit games to 100.

The tempo clearly went Miami's way throughout.

Denver came in averaging 53.8 first-half points. The Nuggets didn't come close to that Friday, going into the break down 50-38. It was the fourth time in six games Denver trailed at halftime, with the other three each by one point.

There wouldn't be a comeback this time.

Miami scored 17 of the first half's final 22 points, and just kept rolling after halftime.

Wade made a jumper 20 seconds into the third quarter, matching his total field goal showing from the entire first half. Chalmers then made another 3-pointer, and O'Neal connected off an assist from Wade for a 57-38 lead, capping what was a 24-5 spurt over a span of about 9 minutes.

"For large stretches of the game, we played really well," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Once Chalmers got into a groove, he put together his best stretch of the season.

All in a span of about 2 minutes, he got past Chauncey Billups for a reverse layup, made another 3-pointer (he was 6 for 7 from the field at the time) and split the lane with a nifty bounce pass to O'Neal for a 68-44 lead with 5:18 left in the third.

"We got some stops and just went on from there," Chalmers said.

It got interesting down the stretch: Afflalo's layup with 3:47 left made it 93-82, the closest Denver had been since late in the first half. But the Heat held the ball for more than a minute on one late possession, offensive rebounds by Haslem and Richardson helping seal the win.

"Obviously, once we got going, we were tough to stop," O'Neal said.

NOTES: A pregame moment of silence was held for those killed Thursday at Fort Hood. ... Denver was again without J.R. Smith, who is still suspended by the NBA. He made 19 3-pointers in his last five games against Miami. ... Celeb night: Flo Rida was seated next to Wade's mother, Jolinda, who was celebrating her 55th birthday. Other stars included Lil' Wayne, Jon Secada and former University of Miami standout Bryant McKinnie of the Minnesota Vikings.