Jokic, as usual, churns in big numbers

Nikola Jokic has his fourth triple-double of the season—29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

MIAMI—Nikola Jokic’s numbers were big, as usual.

And his shooting touch at the end was perfectly soft.

Jokic had his fourth triple-double of the season—29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists—and his high-arching shot in the lane with 2.4 seconds left lifted the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets to a 103-99 win over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.

“That’s my kind of shot,” said Jokic, who now has 20 career triple-doubles. “I love floaters, all kind of floaters.”

The Heat’s Justise Winslow (top) and the Nuggets’ Malik Beasley battle for the ball.

Jamal Murray had 18 points, Trey Lyles added 15, Paul Millsap had 12 and Torrey Craig finished with 11 points and 16 rebounds for the Nuggets, who outrebounded Miami 50-38 and had a 23-11 edge in second-chance points.

It came on the second night of a back-to-back that started on Monday in Houston, and without Gary Harris—sidelined with left-hamstring tightness.

“Hell of a win,” Nuggets Coach Michael Malone said. “I don’t know if it’s a statement win or not. But it’s a win where we had every reason to use an excuse for the loss. And we don’t want to be a team that makes excuses. We want to be a team that finds ways when everything is stacked against us.”

Dion Waiters returned to the lineup and scored 15 points for Miami, which got 13 apiece from Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk, and 12 each from Hassan Whiteside, Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow.

It was Waiters’ first time playing in Miami since December 2017. He missed more than a year after ankle surgery.

“A healthy me, that’s all I can ask for,” Waiters said. “I can just go out there and play. I don’t have to worry about anything.”

A back-and-forth fourth quarter saw the Heat get down by six, then take a six-point lead after a 12-0 run, and rally from four points down to tie it in the last two minutes—with Adebayo getting both of those baskets, the second one coming with 22.9 seconds left.

That’s when Denver went to Jokic, who took a bounce pass from Murray and dropped in what became the biggest shot of the night. Miami’s chance to tie went awry when Olynyk’s lob for Richardson on the inbounds attempt sailed out of bounds—just the sixth Heat turnover, yet the most costly one.

“We did enough things to put ourselves in a position to win,” Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They just made more plays down the stretch. Simple as that.”

In Oakland, Klay Thompson scored 43 points with seven three-pointers, Stephen Curry had his first double-double of the season with 14 points and a season-best 14 assists, and the Warriors snapped a rare three-game home losing streak by beating the cold-shooting Knicks, 125-95.

Kevin Durant added 24 points, six rebounds and six assists while Draymond Green had 11 rebounds and 10 of his team’s 36 assists as the Warriors pulled away late in the first half to get back on a winning track at Oracle Arena.

Thompson hit 5 of his first 7 shots and had 12 points by the end of the first, finishing 18 of 29 from the floor—7 for 16 from long range—and notching his second game with at least 40 points after going off for 52 at Chicago on October 29.

Mario Hezonja scored 19 points for the Knicks, who shot 39.8 percent (35 of 88).

Serge Ibaka scored the winning basket with 17 seconds remaining and Toronto won its sixth straight home game at the expense of Atlanta, 104-101.

Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points, Pascal Siakam had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Kyle Lowry scored 16 points as the Raptors earned their sixth consecutive win over the Hawks.

OG Anunoby scored 14 points and Ibaka had 13.

John Collins had 21 points and 14 rebounds, Jeremy Lin scored 20 points and Trae Young added 19 for the Hawks, who have lost four of five.

Thaddeus Young scored 26 points, Bojan Bogdanovic had 23 and Indiana held off Cleveland’s comeback bid and handed the Cavaliers their 10th straight loss, 123-115.

Cleveland has the worst record in the league at 8-33. The Cavaliers suffered another injury when forward Larry Nance hurt his right knee in the first quarter and didn’t return.

Victor Oladipo had 17 points and Domantas Sabonis had 15 for the Pacers, who have won seven of eight.

Jordan Clarkson scored 26 points for Cleveland. Alec Burks scored 19 points, Tristan Thompson had 15 points and 13 rebounds and rookie point guard Collin Sexton scored 14.

Image Credits: AP

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