MIAMI - Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the fast tempo reminded him of "circa 1980s NBA."
The old-school basketball worked for Miami as Chris Bosh scored 40 points, and Ray Allen haunted his former coach with a four-point play with 6.7 seconds left.
That helped give the Heat a 119-116 victory over the Denver Nuggets Saturday night.
Andre Iguodala's 20-foot jumper had given Denver a 116-115 lead with 14.1 seconds left. But Allen drifted to his favorite spot on the floor -- the left corner -- took a pass from LeBron James and drained a three-pointer. He was fouled by Corey Brewer on the play and made the free throw to give the Heat a three-point lead.
"Ray's been making big shots on every team he's ever played on," said Nuggets coach George Karl, who directed Allen in Milwaukee from 1998 to 2003. "He doesn't need a lot of room to be open."
Danilo Gallinari missed a three-point try just before the buzzer to send Denver to its third straight defeat to start the season, all on the road.
The Heat improved to 2-1, including 2-0 at home.
Bosh, who had his best scoring game as a member of the Heat, made 15 of 22 shots from the field and 9 of 10 from the free-throw line.
Spoelstra said he was encouraged by his team's basketball IQ and its ability to realize that Bosh had the hot hand.
But he wasn't happy with his defense, which allowed Denver to outscore Miami 72-40 in the paint.
The Heat allowed 107 points against Boston in the opener and 104 in a loss Friday to the Knicks. They permitted Boston to shoot 52 percent from the field, and they were burned by the Knicks' shooters, who made 19 of 36 three-pointers (53 percent).
On Saturday, Miami's perimeter defense was better, but forward Kenneth Faried had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Nuggets. Denver outrebounded Miami, 47-32, and dominated on second-chance points, 30-6.
Denver shot 51.6 percent from the floor.
"We know we have to get better defensively," Spoelstra said. "Teams are coming after us, and that's good. It will make us better if we respond in the right way."
The Nuggets had been struggling offensively before arriving in Miami, scoring 75 points in their opener against Philadelphia and 89 against Orlando. The Nuggets' shooting percentages in those two games was 37 percent and 38 percent, respectively.
For the Heat, Allen was a bright spot, finishing with 23 points in 29 minutes off the bench. James nearly had a triple double, posting 20 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds.
His assist on the final Heat basket was typical James, Spoelstra said.
"It was up to LeBron to make the read and do what he does best, which is make good decisions in a split-second," the coach said.
Iguodala tied Faried as Denver's high scorer with 22 points, and the Nuggets had seven players in double figures.
"My neck is exhausted," Spoelstra said after watching the fast-paced action. "They are an explosive offensive team with a heck of a lot of speed. They put a lot of pressure on the rim."
Denver might have won the game had Gallinari, normally a reliable shooter, had an average game. He came in leading the team in scoring and rebounds but was held to 13 points on 3-of-17 shooting.
Of his final miss, Gallinari said he tried to find teammates Ty Lawson and Andre Miller.
"But the timing wasn't there," Gallinari said. "I just tried to make the three."