MIAMI – James Johnson scored a career-high 31 points, Kelly Olynyk added 30 off the bench and the Miami Heat set a franchise single-game scoring record by beating the Denver Nuggets 149-141 in double overtime Monday night.
Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets dunks against the Miami Heat on March 19, 2018 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Miami’s total was also an NBA season-high and helped the Heat get back to the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Houston and Oklahoma City each scored 148 in games earlier this season.
Wayne Ellington scored 29 points for the Heat. Nikola Jokic had 34 for Denver, while Wilson Chandler added 26 for the Nuggets.
“That was as playoffs as it comes right there,” Olynyk said.
The NBA’s stat system crashed late in the first overtime, and crews were scrambling to determine the final numbers long after the buzzer. All that ultimately mattered was the score – one that moved the Heat closer to a playoff berth and left the Nuggets two games back in the Western Conference race.
Kelly Olynyk #9 of the Miami Heat goes for the jump ball after double overtime against the Denver Nuggets on March 19, 2018 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heats 149 points are a new franchise record for a single game. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
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.
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 – and now are fighting with playoffs in mind. The Heat are essentially playing for a seed; the Nuggets are playing for a berth.
Denver led by six midway through the fourth before Miami used a 10-2 run to reclaim the lead. Nikola Jokic tied it for Denver with 10 seconds left in regulation, Josh Richardson missed for Miami at the end and to overtime they went tied at 118. The Heat thought they merited a trip to the line when Johnson missed at the end of the first overtime, but no whistle came.
So in the second overtime, they seized control and outscored the Nuggets 18-10 in the final five minutes. Wayne Ellington rattled in a 3-pointer to start the second extra session, and the Heat didn’t trail again.
Nuggets: Including the franchise’s ABA days, all 28 previous Nuggets teams to finish .500 or better made the playoffs. … Denver fell to 19-5 in games where it scores at least 115 points. The Nuggets are now 17-30 when allowing more than 105.
Heat: It was the highest-scoring first four quarters of an overtime game in Heat history. The previous before-OT high was 115 at Golden State on Dec. 1, 2008. … A pregame moment of silence was held for the six victims of last week’s bridge collapse near Florida International University. … The previous scoring record was 141 points, done twice.
The Heat continue paying tributes to the 17 victims of the shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and several players spent their day off Sunday at the Parkland Rec League Basketball Championship, honoring the lives of victims Joaquin Oliver, Luke Hoyer and Alex Schacter by announcing scholarships in their names – as well as a $500,000 donation.
This seven-game trip for the Nuggets is their longest since a seven-gamer in the 2011-12 season. As if a late-season two-week trip wasn’t tough enough, Denver’s remaining schedule is brutal; after visiting Chicago on Wednesday, the Nuggets will have 10 games left – all against teams currently in the playoff mix.
There’s serious NCAA talk in the Heat locker room, with many players seeing their schools in the Sweet 16. The Heat-backed teams – Kentucky (Bam Adebayo), Duke (Justise Winslow), Nevada (Luke Babbitt), Kansas State (Rodney McGruder), Gonzaga (Kelly Olynyk), Syracuse (Dion Waiters) and Michigan (Derrick Walton Jr.).