Heat’s struggles continue


A year ago at this time, the Miami Heat couldn’t lose.

These days, they can’t win.

And what at first looked like a mere rough stretch is now concerning to the Heat, who watched the Denver Nuggets come into their building and outscore them by 30 points over one stretch Friday night. Kenneth Faried scored 24 points, Darrell Arthur led a big effort by Denver’s bench with 18, and the Nuggets beat the reeling Heat 111-107, sending the two-time defending NBA champions to their fifth loss in six games.

“We always have one defining moment,” Heat forward LeBron James said. “And this is it right here for us.”

The loss sent Miami three games behind Indiana in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

“We were able to withstand their runs, especially coming down the stretch,” Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said after his team won for only the fifth time in its last 18 games.

Ray Allen scored 22 points for Miami. James scored 21 points, Dwyane Wade added 19, Mario Chalmers had 16 and Chris Andersen scored 14 for the Heat, who turned the ball over 20 times and shot 7-for-24 from 3-point range.

“Obviously we’ll be able to get out of it,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, whose team was on what became a 27-game winning streak at this time last season. “When? We don’t know.”

Clippers 96, Jazz 87

In Salt Lake City, Blake Griffin had 20 points and Chris Paul shook off a sprained ankle to score 18 for Los Angeles.

Pacers 101, 76ers 94

In Philadelphia, Paul George scored 25 points to help send the Sixers to their 19th straight loss.

Spurs 119, Lakers 85

In San Antonio, Danny Green had 15 points and the Spurs won their ninth straight.

Wizards 105, Magic 101 (OT)

In Orlando, Washington star John Wall had 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Raptors 99, Grizzlies 86

In Toronto, Jonas Valanciunas scored a season-high 23 points, and Kyle Lowry had 22 points and 12 assists for the Raptors.

Bobcats 105, Timberwolves 93

In Charlotte, Al Jefferson had 25 points and 16 rebounds, and the Bobcats defeated Minnesota for their eighth straight home win.

Suns 87, Celtics 80

In Boston, Goran Dragic had 20 points and Phoenix scored the last seven to beat the cold-shooting Celtics.

Trail Blazers 111, Pelicans 103

In New Orleans, Damian Lillard scored 27 points and Portland snapped a four-game skid.

Cavaliers 103, Warriors 94

In Oakland, Spencer Hawes had 22 points and 13 rebounds to help Cleveland erase an 18-point first-half deficit en route to a victory over Golden State.