(CNN) — The Miami Heat held off Nikola Jokic’s 41 points and cheered up in the fourth quarter as they defeated the Denver Nuggets 111-108 this Sunday in Game 2 of the NBA Finals to tie the series 1-1.
Miami got off to a strong start in Game 2, leading 21-10 midway through the first quarter, before the Nuggets answered with a 45-14 run in the second quarter, turning the score around with 26 points and taking control.
Two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, who attempted just three shots in the first half of Game 1, was more active on offense Sunday, shooting 6-of-13 from the field and adding a team-best 13 points at halftime. .
Heat postseason stars Max Strus and Caleb Martin shrugged off a miserable outing in Game 1, in which the pair shot dismal 1-of-17 from the field to combine 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Miami ended the half on a 14-5 run while trailing by six points.
Miami kept the game close for most of the third quarter, tying the Nuggets several times, but they were finally bested by Jokic, who scored 18 of the Nuggets’ 26 points for an eight-point lead early in the quarter.
The Heat, however, didn’t back down and started the fourth quarter on a 13-2 run, including 10 points by Duncan Robinson, to take an 88-85 lead with less than 10 minutes left in the game.
Miami would continue their run with a double-digit lead, 107-95, until the Nuggets continued an 11-2 run, including a three-pointer by Denver’s Jamal Murray, to cut the three-point deficit to just over 10 minutes left One minute left.
After Jokic’s layup made it 111-108, Murray missed a potentially game-winning three-pointer in the closing seconds of the game and snapped the Nuggets nine-game unbeaten run at Ball Arena this postseason.
Prior to Sunday, Denver was 11-0 in the postseason when leading by double digits, and 37-1 this season when leading by at least eight points entering the fourth quarter.
Miami outscored the Nuggets 36-25 in the fourth quarter, and Jimmy Butler finished with 21 points and nine assists in the win, while center Bam Adebayo added 21 points and nine rebounds. Vincent finished with 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting.
Jimmy Butler spoke about the Heat’s mentality in the postgame press conference, noting that the team is just trying to win.
“I think nobody cares about our team. We don’t care what other people think,” said Butler after the game. “We’re so focused on what we do well and who we are as a group that, at the end of the day, we lean into that. Whether we fail or not, we’ll be who we are because we don’t care about anyone else. It’s been like this all along.” year And that will not change.
“So that’s what I think it is. I think it’s the ‘I don’t give a damn’ factor.”
For his part, Jokic finished the game with 41 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists, while also becoming the first center in NBA history to record 500+ points and 100+ assists in the same postseason. Murray added 18 points and 10 assists in the loss.
Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone discussed what went wrong for the team in Game 2.
“We’re talking about effort. We’re in the NBA Finals, we’re talking about effort. They probably think I was making something up after the first game when I said we didn’t play well. We didn’t play well,” Malone said.
“We had players out there who felt sorry for themselves for not shooting or thought they could turn it on or off. This isn’t the preseason, this isn’t the regular season. We’re in the NBA Finals. It’s really nerve-wracking for me, disappointing.” .”
The third game will be played this Wednesday at the Kaseya Center in Miami.