Heat, Nuggets cap TNT Thursday twinbill

By: Joe Freda | Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Miami Heat have won their first five games of January, with a 3-2 spread record.  Erik Spoelstra’s squad plays the second night of a back-to-back spot in Thursday’s road duel against the Denver Nuggets, who are 1-3 ATS in their last four games.

Miami escaped with its second straight overtime win in Sunday’s 107-100 triumph as a five-point road favorite against the Portland Trail Blazers.  The Heat staged a late 9-2 run in the final 1:46 of the fourth quarter to tie the game, 93-93, before outscoring the Blazers in extra minutes, 14-7.

Heat forward LeBron James notched team-highs of 44 points and 13 rebounds, finishing with a second straight double-double.  The two-time league MVP hit 17-of-26 from the field, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.

James’ mate Dwyane Wade logged 34 points and five assists.  The 28-year-old added one of his team’s three blocks, while failing to grab a steal for the first time in three games.

The lengthy affair’s combined 186 points in regulation time leaped above the ‘total’ of 183, making the ‘over’ 5-1 in Miami’s last six games.  The Heat outscored Portland in fast break points, 23-12, while being outrebounded, 43-41.

Miami improved to 13-7 ATS in their first 20 road games, with the ‘under’ dropping to 12-8.  Wade and Co. have allowed a stingy 91.6 PPG in that span.

The Heat will visit Denver on no rest after playing Wednesday’s contest against the Los Angeles Clippers.  Miami is 5-4 ATS in the second game of its first nine back-to-back spots, with the ‘over’ also going 5-4.

The Nuggets ended a three-game losing streak with Tuesday’s 132-98 spanking as 4 ½-point home favorites against the Phoenix Suns.  Denver trailed by as many as 14 points, while surging to as much as a 38-point lead.

Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo notched team-highs of 31 points and two blocks.  The California native went a perfect 7-for-7 at the foul line, while draining 2-of-4 from three-point range.

Denver’s Carmelo Anthony finished with 28 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, picking up his first double-double in four games.  The three-time All-Star connected on 9-of-17 from the field.

The lopsided battle’s combined 230 points soared above the ‘total’ of 218 ½, bringing the ‘over’ to 4-3 in the Nuggets’ last seven games.  Denver shot 55.7 percent from the field, while holding the Suns to 36.8 percent.

The Nuggets moved to 7-11-2 ATS in their first 20 home dates, with the ‘over’ lifting to 11-8-1.  George Karl’s crew has put up a scorching 109.2 PPG in that stretch.

Denver is 7-2 ATS in its last nine meetings against the Heat, with the ‘under’ going 5-4.

The foes have not met since December 2009, when the Nuggets notched a 114-96 win as nine-point home favorites.  Denver drained a stellar 9-of-17 from beyond the arc, while the Heat hit a lowly 20-of-31 at the foul line.

Thursday’s tip is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (PT), with TNT providing the national television coverage.

Both squads have one day off before resuming action as part of Saturday’s league slate.  Miami will complete its five-game road journey against the Chicago Bulls, while Denver remains home to face the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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