Miami (AFP): Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray dominated the Miami Heat, both making triple doubles, as the Denver Nuggets took a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals and regained their home court advantage with a 109-94 win in game three on Wednesday.
Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Jokic scored 32 points with 21 rebounds and 10 assists, an unprecedented triple-double combination in an NBA Finals game. Murray scored 34 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
It was the first time any team in the Finals had two players making triple-doubles in the same game.
Miami simply could not find a way to handle the 6 foot, 11-inch (2.11m) Jokic and unless coach Erik Spoelstra can come up with a plan before Friday’s game four, the Heat are going to face an uphill battle. Jokic became the first player in NBA history to reach the 30 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists mark in a Finals game but took little interest in that achievement.
“To be honest, not much. I’m just glad that we won a game,” he said. “It was a big one for us just because they won in our arena, so we just didn’t want to go down 2-1,” he added.
“We were just, I think, more locked in, more focused … We’ve got to win the next one, that’s our mindset.” After Miami’s win in Denver on Sunday, the Nuggets provided the perfect response with the kind of imposing display that coach Michael Malone demanded, and which will have answered any doubts that may have emerged after that loss.
Neither team could get on top in the first quarter, which ended 24-24 after a wonderful turnaround, fadeaway, jump shot from Miami’s Kyle Lowry. But the Heat struggled to contain Murray, who put up 20 points in the first half, while Jokic almost had a triple double by half-time — the giant Serbian claiming 14 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in the opening two quarters.
The Nuggets led 53-48 at the half, helped by Miami’s lack of precision in the paint where they missed 16 of 25 attempts.
Early in the third though, Denver took a grip on the contest, quickly opening up an 11-point lead. Miami couldn’t find either the defensive answers or the offensive potency to get back in the game.
Denver had pushed the lead to 21 with 8:28 left in the fourth quarter and although Miami narrowed the deficit as the Nuggets took their foot off the gas, a third straight loss on home court leaves Spoelstra with plenty to ponder. Jimmy Butler led Miami with 28 points while Bam Adebayo had 22 points and 17 rebounds.