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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Denver Nuggets are fresh off their most impressive victory of the season and look to win for the fourth time in five games when they host the Miami Heat on Friday. Denver went toe-to-toe with the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Wednesday and produced a solid 112-110 victory.
The Nuggets are still nine games under .500 despite their recent strong play but also see an opportunity to get into the Western Conference playoff chase. Denver has won the first two outings of an eight-game homestand and stands 2-1/2 games behind the eight-place Utah Jazz. Miami is 1-3 – with three straight losses – at the beginning of a stretch in which it plays 14 of 16 games on the road. The Heat committed a season-worst 24 turnovers on Wednesday while losing 104-90 to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Point guard Goran Dragic was sent back to Miami on Wednesday to undergo an MRI exam on his strained left calf. Dragic apparently was injured during Monday’s loss to Golden State and will miss at least three games – a stretch of absences that began with Wednesday’s game against the Clippers – depending on the severity.
“It’s a bad strain. Hopefully it’s nothing worse,” Dragic told reporters. “I don’t know which move when it happened. It just started hurting. It’s frustrating. Of course, I want to be here to help the team but it’s a part of the game. I’ll just try to get healthy as fast as possible.”
Nugget’s small forward Danilo Gallinari scored 28 points in the upset of the Warriors and has scored 20 or more points in six straight games. Gallinari is averaging 26.2 points during the stretch – he’s made 11 or more free throws in four of the games – and coach Michael Malone has also been pleasantly surprised with his defense, which included a key steal on Golden State guard Stephen Curry near the end of the victory.
“Gallo has proven this year he can guard most players on the floor,” Malone told reporters. “And he did a great job. He got into a stance, forced a deflection, was first to the floor and comes out with the loose ball. Those are winning plays.”
1. The teams split two meetings last season.
2. Miami PF Chris Bosh is averaging 13 points on 9-of-26 shooting over the past two games.
3. Denver PG Jameer Nelson was 1-of-10 shooting against Golden State and is averaging three points on 3-of-21 shooting over his last three games.
PREDICTION: Heat 100, Nuggets 94
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