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Nikola Jokic’s historic effort sends Nuggets past Heat in Game 3

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Nikola Jokic produced a historic stat line of 32 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists, Jamal Murray also had a triple-double and the Denver Nuggets notched a 109-94 victory over the host Miami Heat on Wednesday night to take a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals.

Jokic became the first player ever to log at least 30 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in an NBA Finals game. He made 12 of 21 shots and blocked two shots as Denver bounced back from a Game 2 home loss.

Murray scored a game-high 34 points to go with 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Nuggets, who controlled the contest. Christian Braun scored 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting off the bench, and Aaron Gordon had 11 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for Denver.

Jimmy Butler scored 28 points and Bam Adebayo added 22 points and 17 rebounds for the Heat, who trailed by as many as 21 points.

Game 4 is Friday night at Miami.

The Nuggets used Jokic’s 10th triple-double of the postseason to regain home-court advantage. Jokic has three of the 30-20-10 performances in NBA postseason history. The others came from Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Denver shot 51.2 percent from the field but was just 5 of 18 (27.8 percent) from 3-point range. The Nuggets had a 58-33 rebounding advantage.

Miami made 37 percent of its field-goal attempts and was 11 of 35 (31.4 percent) from behind the arc. Caleb Martin had 10 points for the Heat.

After leading by five at halftime, the Nuggets scored the first six points of the second half on a Jokic hoop and back-to-back baskets by Gordon to take a 59-48 lead.

Miami was later within seven before Denver began pulling away with a 21-11 surge. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made a jumper to give Denver a 78-62 edge, and Braun capped the run with a layup and a ferocious slam as the lead reached 82-63 with 50.2 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Heat scored the final five points to trail 82-68 entering the final stanza, and Adebayo sank two free throws to cut the deficit to 12 in the opening minute of the final quarter.

However, Murray hit a jumper and Jokic followed with the next four points to start an 11-2 run. Braun converted a three-point play with 8:45 left and made a floater 17 seconds later to push the Denver lead to 93-72 with 8:28 to play.

Murray’s jumper made it 101-84 with three minutes left. Miami later narrowed the gap to nine before the Nuggets closed it out.

Denver held a 53-48 advantage at the break. Murray had 20 points to lead the way.

–Field Level Media

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