Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 12/4

Game 1: Saturday, December 4th
Game 2: Friday, December 17th

Nuggets 100

(13-10, 4-6 away)

Heat 107

(18-7, 9-3 home)

    Coverage: ALT

    8:00 PM ET, December 17, 2004

    AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    DEN 25 21 26 28100
    MIA 30 27 29 21107

    Top Performers

    Denver: A. Miller 24 Pts, 5 Reb, 7 Ast, 6 Stl

    Miami: S. O'Neal 20 Pts, 11 Reb, 7 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

    Carmelo sprains ankle in loss

    MIAMI (AP) -- Shaquille O'Neal expected the Miami Heat to endure some growing pains over the early portion of the season, as new teammates got used to each other's nuances.

    The Heat's trip along the learning curve might be over.

    Dwyane Wade scored 25 points and O'Neal turned in a 20-point, 11-rebound, seven-assist effort as Miami won its seventh straight game, 107-100 Friday night over the Denver Nuggets -- who lost forward Carmelo Anthony to a sprained ankle, yet still nearly rallied from a 15-point hole in the final five minutes.

    O'Neal's assist total was a season-high, and two off his career-best. He continually drew double-teams, and simply waited for an uncovered teammate to head toward the basket for either a layup or dunk.

    "The true definition of a great player is how you make the other guys around you," O'Neal said. "When there's two guys on me, other guys are closer to the basket for high-percentage shots and I'm going to hit them every time. That's just playing good team basketball -- something a lot of people in this league don't do.

    "I don't have to say names."

    The presumed jab at former teammate Kobe Bryant indicates that O'Neal is eager for his Christmas Day return to Los Angeles and the anticipated matchup against the Lakers, but Miami's winning streak also shows that the Heat aren't looking ahead to any opponent.

    The current run matches the franchise's best since a 10-game streak in the 1997-98 season.

    "We were the last team to beat them, so I know they were highly motivated," Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "We expected that. When you play a really good team in a really tough environment and you dig yourself a hole, that is tough to overcome."

    Anthony finished with 14 points in 29 minutes, leaving late in the third quarter after missing a layup and landing on O'Neal's foot. He rolled his left ankle and remained down on the court for about two minutes before being helped to the locker room for X-rays -- which revealed no break.

    Anthony, who was on crutches after the game, said he doesn't expect to play Saturday in Orlando when Denver ends its seven-game road trip -- matching the longest in franchise history.

    "I was kind of in shock at first. I was just getting over spraining the other ankle," Anthony said. "It's a little sore and tender right now. The doctor told me it will be day-to-day. ... It's not as bad as it might seem."

    Andre Miller scored 24 points for Denver and Kenyon Martin had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, who fell to 3-3 on their trip.

    Eddie Jones added 16 points and Christian Laettner 14 for the Heat, who improved the Eastern Conference's best record to 18-7.

    "We made the right plays and we got the right shots," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. "And that's all you can do."

    O'Neal's quick pass set up Wade for a dunk that put Miami up 100-85 with 4:43 remaining, but the Nuggets outscored the Heat 15-5 over the next four minutes. Earl Boykins' 3-pointer with 32 seconds left drew Denver within 105-100, but the Nuggets missed their final three shots and got no closer.

    "We couldn't get it done at the end, but we battled hard and that's been our M.O. all year," Martin said. "We're a team that doesn't quit."

    Miami outrebounded Denver 23-9 in the first two quarters, tying the club record for fewest boards allowed in a half. The Heat -- outrebounded by a season-worst 16 in the opening half Wednesday at Washington -- gave up just one offensive board in the first 25:09 against the Nuggets.

    Game notes

    Denver fell to 10-2 when Martin has a double-double. ... Miami has allowed nine rebounds in a half on two other occasions, never before in a first half. It let Washington grab 32 first-half boards on Wednesday. ... Nuggets F Nene (right hip contusion) returned to action; he'd managed a total of three minutes in Denver's last three games, and had sat out all of the last two. He had five points in 16 minutes ... Donald Trump and fiancee Melania Knauss had center-court seats, and kissed when their image appeared on the JumboTron during a second-quarter timeout.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 100 107
    FGM-FGA 39-84 (.464) 43-83 (.518)
    3PM-3PA 6-14 (.429) 4-17 (.235)
    FTM-FTA 16-19 (.842) 17-29 (.586)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-37 12-42
    Assists 18 27
    Turnovers 16 15
    Steals 13 8
    Blocks 7 9
    Fast Break Points 21 4
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 28 (0/0) 20 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 4 17

    Top Performers

    Andre Miller Miller
    Points: 24
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 7
    Stl: 6
    Blk: 0
    Shaquille O'Neal O'Neal
    Points: 20
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 7
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 3