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Porter scores 30 points, Nuggets hold off Heat's 4th-quarter rally in 103-97 victory

DENVER (AP) — Michael Porter Jr. had 30 points to help pick up the scoring load after Jamal Murray left because of a sprained ankle, and the Denver Nuggets staved off Miami's fourth-quarter rally to beat the Heat 103-97 on Thursday night.

Porter was 12 of 23 from the floor, including four 3-pointers, and had 11 rebounds to help the Nuggets improve to 5-0 since the All-Star break.

Up 16 in the fourth quarter, Denver saw Miami trim it 99-97 after a floating bank shot by Jimmy Butler with 11 seconds remaining. Nikola Jokic made two free throws to seal it in a game where the Nuggets never trailed.

Jokic finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, ending a streak of four triple-doubles. The two-time NBA MVP scored eight of Denver's 11 points down the stretch.

Murray left just before halftime after he sprained his right ankle when he landed on Aaron Gordon's leg after a drive to the basket. Murray has dealt with right hamstring and ankle ailments this season, along with shin splints. He finished with six points.

Bam Adebayo had 22 points and Butler added 21 points for a Heat team that had won five in a row. Miami was without Kevin Love, Tyler Herro and Josh Richardson due to injuries.

This marked the first meeting between the Heat and Nuggets since they squared off in the NBA Finals last June. The Nuggets beat the Heat in five games for their first NBA crown.

Both teams entered the game on hot streaks. Denver was playing for a second straight night after routing Sacramento.

The Nuggets held a pregame ring ceremony for suspended Heat big man Thomas Bryant, who was with Denver last season in its title run. Bryant was presented his championship ring at half-court from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in a pregame ceremony and then immediately left the arena.

The NBA made an allowance for Bryant to be on hand for the game because it was the Heat’s only visit to Denver. Suspended players are typically not allowed to be present at the arena on game nights. Bryant wrapped up a three-game suspension for his involvement in an altercation that happened during a Heat game against New Orleans last week.

UP NEXT

Heat: Host Utah on Saturday night.

Nuggets: At Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

Pat Graham, The Associated Press