NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, March 19th (All times eastern)
Denver Nuggets (41-28) at Miami Heat (47-22), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - LeBron James single-handedly put the Miami Heat back into the win column with a precise shooting performance at Atlanta. Tonight the two-time reigning MVP looks to lead the Heat past Denver in a home matchup from AmericanAirlines Arena.
James gave the Philips Arena crowd a memorable night with 43 points in Friday's 106-85 win over the Southeast Division-rival Hawks. He made 16 of his 21 shots from the field, including a 5-for-7 effort from three-point range in just over 30 minutes of action. James scored 23 points alone in the third quarter before resting for the playoff-bound Heat, who rebounded from a loss versus Oklahoma City that halted a three-game winning streak.
"That was one of the more enjoyable quarters I have had," James said regarding his third quarter performance. "The fact that we were playing on both ends of the court was key."
Chris Bosh registered 17 points and 10 rebounds while Dwyane Wade added 14 points and five assists in a winning effort. Mike Bibby made his return to Atlanta after he was traded before the deadline. Bibby spent parts of four seasons with the Hawks before joining the Heat as a free agent earlier this month. Bibby was dealt to the Wizards and agreed to a contract buyout after playing just two games for Washington.
Bibby had only two points and handed out six assists against the Hawks.
Miami, which is 25-10 at home, moved within 2 1/2 games of the top spot in Eastern Conference after both Chicago and Boston lost last night. The Bulls are just a half-game in front of the Celtics for conference supremacy.
Denver is fighting for a postseason spot and sits fifth in the Western Conference race. It is also 4 1/2 games behind the Thunder for Northwest Division bragging rights.
The Nuggets had their four-game winning streak stopped with Friday's 85-82 loss in Orlando on Jameer Nelson's three-pointer at the buzzer. Wilson Chandler scored 20 points and Danilo Gallinari returned from an eight-game absence because of a broken toe to post 17 points and six rebounds off the bench. Nene netted 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Denver, which entered the game 7-1 in the past eight.
"It's tough to lose a game like that, on a walk-off three," said Chandler. "There are positives that we can take out of this, we played tough on the road against a playoff team."
Denver was aiming for its first 2-0 season series sweep of the Magic since the 1991-92 campaign, but lost for the 17th time in the past 18 tries in Orlando. It is 2-1 on a four-game road trip that concludes tonight and 14-21 away from the Rocky Mountains. After Saturday's game the Nuggets will return home for a four-game residency versus the Raptors, Spurs, Wizards and Kings.
Nuggets guard Raymond Felton left Friday's game with a sprained left ankle and is doubtful for tonight. He had four points, seven assists and six boards against the Magic. Al Harrington (Achilles) is questionable.
The Nuggets have played well against the Heat in the past and notched a 130-102 victory over Miami on Jan. 13 this season from the Pepsi Center. J.R. Smith scored 28 points to lead Denver in that one. Denver has won two straight and 10 of 11 meetings with Miami, which is 10-5 in the past 15 matchups with the Nuggets in south Florida.
03/19 10:41:28 ET