Denver continued its slide with a 102-97 loss at Phoenix on Friday as Karl completed his two-game suspension for criticizing officials after a 101-92 loss to New Jersey on Monday.
The Nuggets are 0-4 this season without Karl, who was also suspended for the first two games of the season for attending offseason workouts at Marquette University involving a player not eligible for the draft. Assistant Scott Brooks served in his absence in all four defeats.
The latest loss came despite Marcus Camby’s season-high 33 points and 20 rebounds. Camby recorded his eighth straight double-double and 12th overall.
Camby took a page from Karl in expressing his displeasure with the officiating after the game. Denver rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit to take a two-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
“We’re playing hard,” Camby said. “Down 17 at halftime, we hunkered down together and tried to regain the lead going into the fourth quarter. Going down the stretch … I don’t want to get fined. (But) you know what I’m talking about.”
Denver forward Carmelo Anthony returned after missing one game with a sprained left ankle suffered in the loss to the Nets. Anthony scored 22 points before re-aggravating the injury and leaving the game in the fourth quarter.
The Nuggets have won their last three home meetings with the Heat, including a 104-95 victory last season in which Anthony scored 28 points.
Miami has won back-to-back road games for the first time this season after its third straight win, 98-87 over Sacramento on Friday. Dwyane Wade scored 27 points and Jason Williams added 20 for the Heat, who started the trip with a 96-74 win at Atlanta on Wednesday.
With injured center Shaquille O’Neal out, Alonzo Mourning has done an outstanding job of helping fill the void left by the three-time NBA Finals MVP. Mourning blocked seven shots on Friday and has rejected an average of 5.4 over the last five games.
Mourning leads the NBA with 4.1 blocks per game, while Camby is second at 3.4.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 2): Heat - 1st place, Southeast Division. Nuggets - 2nd place (tied), 1 1/2 GB, Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Heat - Wade, 25.3 ppg and 6.9 apg; Mourning, 8.2 rpg. Nuggets - Anthony, 20.3 ppg; Camby, 14.2 rpg; Miller, 7.3 apg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 17, 2004; Heat, 107-100. At Miami, Wade scored 25 points and O’Neal added 20 and 11 rebounds for the Heat. Anthony rolled his left ankle in the third quarter and did not return.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Heat - 3-4 on the road; Nuggets - 6-3 at home.