Nikola Jokic returned from an injury to score a team-high 24 points and 15 rebounds as the Denver Nuggets ended a six-game losing skid with a 120-111 victory over the Miami Heat on Monday.
The reigning NBA MVP, who had missed four games with an injured wrist, shot nine-of-14 from the floor, made five-of-six free throws and dished out seven assists.
“That’s behind us,” Jokic said of the losing streak. “We need to move on to the future. We won the game and that’s the most important thing.”
This was the first game between the teams since Jokic tangled with Heat player Markieff Morris in a 113-96 Nugget win on November 8.
Jokic had a triple-double in that game before getting ejected for his retaliation blow against Morris, who was upset at a non-call and was ejected for his hit on Jokic. Morris has yet to play since the altercation.
The Heat fans in the 19,600 crowd at their FTX Arena booed Jokic throughout Monday’s contest.
Aaron Gordon added 20 points for the Nuggets, who shot 58.1 percent from the floor, including 51.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Bones Hyland came off the bench and scored 19 points in the win. “I shot the lights out of the ball,” Hyland said.
The Heat were missing leading scorer Jimmy Butler (tailbone contusion) and Tyler Herro (body soreness).
Bam Adebayo led Miami with 24 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Kyle Lowry added 17 points and a game-high 14 assists.
“Our defence is better than that,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think they played extremely well and in those pivotal moments in the course of the game, it seemed like they made every shot, every play.”
Elsewhere, Nikola Vucevic delivered a double-double of 30 points and 14 rebounds and DeMar DeRozan had 28 points to power the Chicago Bulls to a 133-119 victory against the Charlotte Hornets.
In Minneapolis, Karl-Anthony Towns scored 32 points as the Minnesota Timberwolves recorded their seventh win in the past eight games by defeating the Indiana Pacers 100-98.