Carmelo Anthony scored 30 points, and Kenyon Martin added a season-high 20 to help the Nuggets rout the Heat 115-89 on Sunday night. Marcus Camby had 21 rebounds, his fifth 20-rebound game of the season.
"We've got to get it together," said Shaquille O'Neal, who scored a season-low six points. "Tonight was a plain-old butt-whipping."
Miami has been in this position before. The Heat started 4-8 last season and won the Southeast Division. In 2003-04, Miami started 4-12, rallied to finish 42-40 and reached the Eastern Conference semifinals.
"We were five, six games under .500 and then won seven of eight or eight of nine games," Heat coach Pat Riley said of last season. "It is important that we play these games more competitively and keep things even before you try to win seven games in one night. You can't do that. It's got to come back slowly."
Denver never gave the Heat a chance Sunday. The Nuggets used their running game to jump out to a 12-3 in the first 2:24 and never let up. Anthony had 12 points in the first quarter and Denver built a 37-17 advantage after the first 12 minutes.
"That's the way we want to play, especially at home," Martin said. "We want to use the altitude to our advantage."
Wade and O'Neal were saddled with early foul trouble. O'Neal picked up two fouls in the first 5:33, and Wade was whistled for two quick ones late in the first and sat the entire second quarter with three fouls.
When O'Neal was in the game, things didn't go well for the 7-footer. Midway through the second quarter, he missed a dunk and the follow, and Martin hit a jumper in the lane to give Denver a 53-30 lead.
"You just don't see him have nights like that very often," said Nuggets guard Allen Iverson, who had 20 points. "Hopefully, this was just one of those games. All of us have them."
The Heat went on a 12-2 run to cut the deficit to 59-42 at the half. Miami got to 61-49 early in the third quarter, but the Nuggets followed with a 12-2 run of their own to push the lead back to 20 with 7:22 left in the period.
The Nuggets poured it on, and they closed the quarter with Iverson hitting a 33-foot buzzer-beater to make it 92-64.
"We are in a funk," Wade said. "Everything goes wrong when you're where we are."
When the lead reached 101-69 with 9:08 left, Denver's starters were done for the night.
"Miami is not fitting right now, and they are not in tune, but we weren't either a couple of games ago," said Nuggets head coach George Karl, whose team has won two straight after a three-game losing streak. "Our team, in the last three games, including the Laker loss, has come together a little bit."
Miami knows it can put a run together, but with the Orlando Magic off to a fast start, it knows that run needs to start soon.
"I think we can, but we have to do it now," O'Neal said. "We can't always keep waiting, we can't always keep relying on the past. We have to do it now."
Heat G Jason Williams sprained his right foot in the third quarter. He didn't return. ... The Nuggets are 6-1 against Miami since O'Neal joined the Heat in 2004 and have won five straight against the 2006 NBA champions. ... Riley is one win shy of 1,200 for his career. He has coached 1,838 games.