Nuggets have pair of triple-doubles, grab 2-1 lead over Heat in NBA Finals

AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell / Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic drives to the basket over Miami Heat forward Kevin Love (42) during Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night in Florida.

MIAMI —Never had two players from the same NBA team posted 30-point triple-doubles in the same game.

Never in the regular season. Never in the playoffs. Certainly never in the league championship series.

Until now.

Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray made history Wednesday night, and now the Denver Nuggets are two wins away from making some real history, too.

Jokic and Murray became the first teammates in any NBA Finals to both record triple-doubles in the same game, and the Nuggets reclaimed the lead in the best-of-seven series by beating the Miami Heat 109-94 in Game 3.

"By far, their greatest performance as a duo in their seven years together," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said after his team moved two wins away from what would be Denver's first title.

Jokic finished with 32 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists. Murray had 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, getting the rebound he needed with nine seconds remaining.

The Nuggets outrebounded the Heat 58-33 and took a 2-1 lead three days after Miami won 111-108 in Denver. Game 4 is Friday in Miami.

"I'm just glad that we won the game," Jokic said. "It was a big one for us because they won in our arena. We just didn't want to go down 2-1."

Jimmy Butler scored 28 points for Miami, Bam Adebayo finished with 22 plus 17 rebounds, and Caleb Martin added 10 points.

"We've got to come out with more energy and effort, and that's correctable," Butler said. "That's on us as a group."

Jokic and Murray combined for 24 field goals; Miami had 34. Jokic and Murray combined for 31 rebounds; Miami had 33. Jokic and Murray combined for 20 assists; Miami had exactly that many.

Somehow, some way, the Heat know they need to find an answer soon, or risk going into a weekend break for the series on the brink of elimination.

"It's not an easy task to do," Butler said. "But if we want to win, we're going to have to figure it out."

Miami has been the comeback kings of these NBA playoffs — seven rallies in games after trailing by at least 12 points. The Heat were down by 14 going into the fourth Wednesday, and Malone reminded his club of Miami's penchant for comebacks.

"First two games, they won the fourth quarter," Malone said. "Tonight, we win the fourth quarter, we win the game."

His team listened.

The lead eventually reached 21 points, the outcome never seriously in doubt, and Jokic looking very much like he's back in cruise control. The Heat got within nine on a 3-pointer by Duncan Robinson with 1:22 left, but there was no epic finish for Miami. Murray and Jokic had the Nuggets too far ahead to get caught.

"You have to expect there to be elite talent in the Finals," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And both those guys are elite-level talent."

Officially, Jokic is now the seventh player to have two triple-doubles in the same NBA Finals. LeBron James and Magic Johnson each did it in three different NBA Finals. Butler, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Draymond Green all had one title series with two triple-doubles.

It was Jokic's 10th triple-double of these playoffs, extending his single-season record, and he was unbothered by whatever Miami threw his way. He finished 12-for-21 from the floor, 7-for-8 from the foul line, playing 44 minutes.

"We were more locked in, more focused," Jokic said.

Christian Braun was tremendous off the bench for the Nuggets, scoring 15 points on 7-for-8 shooting in 19 minutes, and Aaron Gordon added 11. And afterward, they both marveled at what their stars did in Game 3.

"It's greatness, man. It's greatness," Gordon said. "That's a dynamic duo right there."

Added Braun: "I would say that it's what they do every game."

Miami never led in the second half. A dunk by Adebayo put the Heat up 44-42 with 3:18 left in the half, before a 3-pointer by Murray represented the seventh and final lead change of the night. It was 53-48 at halftime, before Denver pushed the lead to double digits for the first time early in the third quarter and wound up leading by as many as 19 later in that period.

The Heat negated the Nuggets' home-court advantage by winning Game 2 in Denver, a matchup in which Murray had a chance to force overtime with a 3-point try that missed at the end. The Nuggets now have the series lead again, and there was no Game 2 hangover on Wednesday.

"Not just me," Murray said. "Everybody bounced back."

Miami's Udonis Haslem — in his 20th and final season — set a record. He became the oldest player to appear in the NBA Finals, breaking the mark of 42 years, 58 days set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on June 13, 1989.

Haslem turns 43 on Friday. He played the final 29.8 seconds.