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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, December 30th (All times Eastern)

Miami Heat (23-7) at Denver Nuggets (14-15), 9 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Miami Heat hope to have superstar LeBron James back on the court when they close out a four-game western road trip Monday against the struggling Denver Nuggets.

James missed his first game of the season Saturday in an exciting 108-107 win at Portland because of a strained right groin suffered in a loss to Sacramento the night before. He's also dealing with a balky ankle and leads the Heat in scoring (25.4), rebounding (6.9) and assists (6.5).

Miami needed some late-game heroics to knock off the mighty Trail Blazers, as Chris Bosh buried a 3-pointer with five-tenths of a second left to lift the two-time defending champions to their seventh win in eight tries.

"I had space and I was able to lock in to the goal the whole time," said Bosh, who pumped in a season-best 37 points on 15-of-26 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds. "It's one of those surreal moments you get every now and then. You cherish it and move on."

Dwyane Wade scored 16 points, Michael Beasley added 12 and Norris Cole chipped in 11 off the bench. Rashard Lewis netted 10 points as a reserve for the Heat, who are 2-1 on the trip, 9-5 outside of South Beach and in the midst of playing 11 of 14 games as the visitor.

While James is questionable against the Nuggets, center Chris Andersen is also questionable due to a stiff neck/upper back. James has scored in double- figures in 524 consecutive games, two shy of matching Moses Malone's mark of 526 set from Nov. 4, 1978 - March 4, 1985.

The Nuggets are mired in a season-high six-game losing streak and will begin a three-game homestand Monday versus Miami, Philadelphia and Memphis.

In a 120-99 beating at the hands of Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday, Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler scored 20 and 19 points, respectively, for the Nuggets, who were outscored by a 65-43 margin in the second half and committed 16 turnovers for 29 Memphis points.

"We gave up 30 points in the third quarter and 35 in the fourth quarter. You are not going to win any games, especially on the road, against any team giving up numbers like that," Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw said.

Denver has lost three in a row at home and owns a 7-6 record at the Pepsi Center. The last time the Nuggets lost seven in a row was during an eight-game slide from April 1-16, 2003.

The Nuggets lost both games with Miami last season, but are still 11-4 in the previous 15 meetings between the teams. Miami ended a 10-game losing streak in the Rockies with a 98-93 victory last Nov. 15, as James led the way with 27 points and 12 assists.

Shaw played for the Heat from 1992-94.

12/30 11:08:53 ET