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DENVER (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat no longer have the talent of their recent title-chasing era and own one of the worst records in the NBA entering Wednesday’s game against the host Denver Nuggets.

Miami (5-12) lost eight of 10 to start the season and is in another rough stretch with losses in four of the past five games.

LeBron James headed back to Cleveland two seasons ago and “Big Three” pals Dwyane Wade (free agent to Chicago) and Chris Bosh (blood clots) are also off the roster. The defense hasn’t been an issue most of the season but gave up a season-worst output in Monday’s 112-104 home loss to the Boston Celtics.

Denver (7-10) won four of its last seven games after a slow start and fought off the Phoenix Suns for a 120-114 victory on Sunday. Nuggets small forward Danilo Gallinari (thigh) is hopeful of returning after missing the previous three games.

Heat point guard Goran Dragic returned from a two-game absence due to elbow and lip injuries to record his best performance of the campaign with season bests of 27 points and 17 assists on Monday. Dragic recorded just three 20-point outings and hadn’t reached double digits in assists until the big performance against Boston.

“That is the Goran Dragic we know,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said afterward. “It’s my responsibility to get him to that more frequently.”

Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler was asked to take a bigger offensive role with Gallinari sidelined and is been up to the task with averages of 28.5 points and 9.5 rebounds over the past two games. He scored a season-best 32 points in Friday’s loss to Oklahoma City and followed up with 25 to mark the first time he put together back-to-back 25-point outings in his nine-year career.

“I am pretty cool all the time,” Chandler told reporters after the Phoenix contest. “That is just my demeanor, always laid back. I don’t really think about it. It is just another shot, if I miss it or if I make it.”


1. The Heat won the past three overall meetings but are just 12-17 when visiting Denver.

2. Miami backup SG Wayne Ellington (thigh) made his season debut on Monday and scored nine points in 27 minutes.

3. Denver G Jameer Nelson scored a season-high 21 points in each of the past two games.

PREDICTION: Nuggets 106, Heat 102

By SportsDirect Inc.