MIAMI (AP) — They broke the stat system. That’s how good Miami and Denver were – even modern technology couldn’t keep up with the Heat and Nuggets.
For 48 minutes, they went back and forth.
And one overtime wouldn’t decide it, either.
Finally, after three hours, the Heat said enough. James Johnson scored a career-high 31 points, Kelly Olynyk added 30 off the bench and Miami set a franchise single-game scoring record by beating the Nuggets 149-141 in double overtime on Monday night.
“There didn’t deserve to be a loser,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Guys probably really enjoyed playing in a game like this.”
His guys did, anyway. Olynyk became the second reserve in Heat history to score 30. Wayne Ellington had 23 points, and the Heat made 20 3-pointers – second-most in franchise history.
All that comes with a serious disclaimer. There was no official boxscore after the game, because the system crashed in the first overtime and crews were scrambling to determine official numbers long after the final buzzer. What mattered most was the score – one that moved Miami (38-33) into seventh in the Eastern Conference and left the Nuggets two games back of the last Western Conference spot.
“They just executed,” Nuggets forward Paul Millsap said. “They got some, I think, fluke plays and a little luck and they’re at home, you know. Momentum shifted a little bit.”
Miami’s point total was also an NBA season high. Houston and Oklahoma City each scored 148 in games earlier this season.
“There’s no stats. The stat machine blew up I guess,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “But the only stat I cared about tonight is that I’m proud of the way we competed, I’m proud of the way we executed, I’m proud of the fact that we gave ourselves a chance.”
Neither team was at full strength. For Miami, Dwyane Wade (left hamstring strain) missed his fourth consecutive game, and Hassan Whiteside (left hip pain) sat out his fifth straight contest. Denver was without leading scorer Gary Harris, sidelined again by a strained right knee that could keep him out several more days.
Denver led 16-5 after 3 1/2 minutes, and that was the only double-digit lead by either side for about the next three hours. It was airtight until the very final moments, almost to an absurd degree.
After one quarter, Denver led by one.
Halftime, Miami led by one.
After three, Miami still by one.
After regulation, tied.
After one overtime, still tied.
“That’s as playoffs as it comes,” Olynyk said.
Back and forth they went all night, two teams who played a one-point game at Denver back in November – that one not being decided until Dion Waiters‘ missed jumper as time expired sealed the Nuggets’ win. This one had even more fireworks, with the Heat missing shots at the end of regulation and the first overtime before finding a way in the second OT.
Olynyk and James Johnson had all 13 Miami points in the first overtime.
“We didn’t exactly want it to be like this,” said Ellington, who rattled home a 3-pointer to start the second OT and put Miami ahead for good. “But these are the types of games that show your character.”
CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 40 points as part of his third triple-double in four games and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 124-117 on Monday night as coach Tyronn Lue began his leave of absence to address health issues.
Lue said Monday in a statement he been dealing with chest pains and loss of sleep, and that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is. Associate head coach Larry Drew will run the team in Lue’s absence.
James scored 17 points in the third quarter and finished with 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his 16th triple-double this season and 71st of his career.
The four-time MVP took over in the third beginning with back-to-back 3-pointers. After not getting a foul called on a third attempt, he finished Cleveland’s next possession with a massive dunk. He was fouled attempting another dunk and made both free throws the following time down.
Milwaukee cut a 17-point lead to 117-109, but James drove the length of the floor for a dunk with just over a minute left.
Cavaliers All-Star forward Kevin Love returned after missing six weeks because of a broken left hand and scored 18 points in 25 minutes. He sparked a 10-0 run in the second quarter with two 3-pointers
Milwaukee guard Jason Terry was given a Flagrant-1 foul for hitting Ante Zizic in the face with an open hand while the rookie center was putting up a shot in the lane. Zizic made both free throws, helping spark a run that built a double-figure lead.
Lue, 40, led Cleveland to the 2016 NBA championship after taking over for David Blatt midway through that season.
The Cavaliers (41-29) are third in the Eastern Conference and have endured roster shake-ups, injuries and other distractions as they try to reach the NBA Finals for the fourth straight time.
No timetable has been given for when Lue will return. He missed the second half Saturday, the second time this season he left a game because he wasn’t feeling well. Lue also sat out a game against Chicago at home in December.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans say rookie guard Frank Jackson won’t make his NBA debut this season after having follow-up surgery to remove residual scar tissue from earlier right foot operations.
The Pelicans say Jackson also received an injection in his foot.
The club says a specialist in New York handled Jackson’s latest procedure.
The Pelicans acquired the 6-foot-4 Jackson through a draft-night trade with the Charlotte Hornets, who selected the former Duke player with the first pick of the second round last summer.
Following the draft, the Pelicans signed Jackson to a three-year contract at the NBA minimum with two years guaranteed, but Jackson needed a second foot surgery last summer to address a setback following his initial surgery last May.
Jackson spent one season at Duke, averaging 10.9 points.