Saturday, March 15, 2014
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Heat fall to Nuggets for fifth loss in last six

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[March 15, 2014]  MIAMI  Matters keep growing worse for the two-time defending NBA champions.

The Miami Heat have now dropped five of their last six games after a 111-107 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night at American Airlines Arena.

Forward Kenneth Faried registered a double-double, scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to lead the Nuggets. He called this road win against the champs tops on the year for a young Denver team.

"This is No. 1 in our season to come in here in Miami," Faried said. "They say it's a trap here."

Down by four, forward LeBron James missed a 3-pointer with 26.9 seconds remaining. The Nuggets corralled the rebound, and it was free throws from then on out.

After the Heat cut a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to four, Denver went on a 10-2 run capped by a four-point play from forward Wilson Chandler in the corner with 3:47 that turned it back to a 12-point affair.

"We started getting passive offensively. We wanted to stay in attack mode," Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said about withstanding the late Heat run. "We said, 'They're the champs for a reason and they're going to keep coming. They're not going to lay down.' I wanted them to stay aggressive."


Miami crept back in with an ensuing 9-0 run that included 3-pointers from guards Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen, who scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth.

Denver improved to 2-2 on its current five-game road trip.

"It really boosts our self-esteem. Going forward, we can play a lot more confident now," Faried said. "We're playing at a higher pace, guys are getting the ball out [in transition] and playing phenomenal basketball."

The loss, coupled with an Indiana win in Philadelphia, puts the Heat three games back of the Pacers for the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed. The current stretch matches the worst six-game run for the Heat since the start of the Big 3 era in the 2010-11 season.

"We've been here before. It's been a while, but we've been here before," said James, who finished with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists. "This moment will either define our season or end our season. ... We always have one defining moment. This is it right here."

Added Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: "Obviously, we'll be able to get out of it. When? We don't know, but the only thing we have is to work at it and work together to get back on track."

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The Nuggets led 58-53 at halftime. Guard Evan Fournier came off the bench to score 12 of his 14 in the first half. The Heat led by as many as 14 in the first quarter before a second quarter where they surrendered 38 points to Denver.

"It was not just me. We all came out very aggressive," the Frenchman Fournier said. "The last three games we did not play aggressive. Against the Heat, you cannot do that or else you get your a-- beat."

The Nuggets bench totaled 58 points, including 18 from forward Darrell Arthur and 11 from center J.J. Hickson.

James and guard Dwyane Wade, who each scored in double figures through one, only combined for four points in second quarter where the Heat were outscored by 15.

"Something is off with this team and we, as a unit, have to figure out what is off and try to get back to winning," said Wade, who finished with 19.

Miami built its early lead with strong play from in close. The Heat scored 22 points in the paint in the first quarter, including their first 14 on the night.

Denver wraps up its five-game road trip on the second night of a back-to-back in Atlanta on Saturday. Miami hosts the Rockets on Sunday.

NOTES: The Heat signed C Justin Hamilton on Friday. G/F DeAndre Liggins was released from his second 10-day contract with Miami to make room for Hamilton, who played with the Heat's D-League affiliate, Sioux Falls, before joining the Bobcats on a 10-day contract earlier this season. ... First-year Nuggets coach Brian Shaw returned to some old stomping grounds on Friday. Shaw played with the Heat from 1992-94. He still holds a tie for the franchise record for 3-pointers in a game with 10 on April 8, 1993 against Milwaukee. ... Since scoring a career-high 61 points against the Bobcats on March 3, F LeBron James entered Friday averaging 20 points per game in his ensuing five games, well below his 26.9 season average. ... After shooting 51 percent against the Magic on Wednesday, the Nuggets are 13-1 in games where they shoot over 50 percent.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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