Heat Check: Dwyane Wade keeps Miami hot at home
MIAMI -- The Miami Heat keep racking up home victories, with the Denver Nuggets their latest victim Friday night.
The 108-91 victory further solidifies the Heat's playoff hopes with their seventh victory in their past eight home games.
Luol Deng and Dwyane Wade scored 14 of the Heat's 22 points in the first quarter, but the rest of the team struggled from the field and fell behind by 10 points. Denver's starting frontcourt of Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried and Jusuf Nurkic combined to shoot 9 of 14 for 20 of Denver's 23 points in the first quarter.
Miami built up a double-digit lead minutes into the second quarter with the Nuggets unable to sustain their hot shooting. Instead, it was the Heat who turned it up a notch by making 14 of their 18 shot and scoring 37 points in the second quarter to increase their lead. Michael Beasley's impact was felt on both ends of the floor, and he came off the bench to score nine points in the second quarter on 4-of-5 shooting.
After converting just two of their 10 attempts beyond the arc in the first half, Denver knocked down four in the third quarter to help cut the deficit down to five points at one point. Miami answered back on defense by forcing turnovers and creating fast-break opportunities, including one play in which Hassan Whiteside stole the ball near halfcourt and took it all the way to the rim by himself for a dunk.
The one-two punch of Dragic and Wade kept the Heat afloat in the final quarter to help steady the team as Denver made its final push to get back into the game, which primarily consisted of shooting from long range. But the Nuggets missed all but one of their first 14 shots and only scored 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Miami won their third straight game, equaling their longest win streak since they opened the season 3-0.
THE TURNING POINT
Miami's scintillating shooting in the second quarter, during which they 77.8 percent from the field and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line, netted a substantial lead the Nuggets were never able to come back from.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Beasley did a little bit of everything off the bench with nine points, eight rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a block in 34 minutes.
STAT OF THE GAME
Miami's starting lineup of Dragic, Wade, Deng, Udonis Haslem, and Whiteside improved to 7-2 for the season.
The Heat hit the road to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday at 3 p.m.