Ray Allen didn’t leave Boston to be in Miami’s starting lineup.
He came to Miami to hit the kind of last-second shots he got Saturday.
Allen, who has connected on more long-range shots than any player in NBA history, drained a three-pointer from the safety of the left corner with 6.7 seconds left to lift the Heat to a 119-116 victory over the visiting Nuggets at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The future Hall of Famer was knocked to the ground by Denver’s Corey Brewer as he took the shot — and his subsequent free throw gave Miami a three-point lead it would not relinquish.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
“I was thinking when I stepped up to the line ‘please make this free throw,’ ’’ said Allen, adding he couldn’t recall winning a game with a four-point play. “I knew it would be a better story to tell.”
Said Dwyane Wade: “I’m glad he’s on our side. We’ve been burned by Ray so many times. No one hits it from the deep corner like Ray.”
With Denver trailing by three, Denver was forced to go long range on its final possession. Danilo Gallinari missed a three-pointer on the Nuggets final shot.
“We clearly didn’t play how we wanted to consistently defensively against that dynamic,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “At the end of the day, we ground it out and found a way to win. You have to do that and learn how to do that as a team against different styles, different players, different teams. They bring a lot of speed.’’
Allen’s big shot, which came after LeBron James stormed the lane before kicking out a pass, overshadowed a huge game from Chris Bosh as well as a defensive game that had plenty of holes.
“I told Ray I’m real glad he’s on our team,” Bosh said. “We’ve seen him hit that fadeaway three so many times before. It’s a reversal now. We’re just happy to have him on our team.’’
Bosh scored 40 points —- his most points since signing with the Heat in 2009 — and James came within a rebound of recording a triple-double (20 points, 11 assists, nine rebounds).
James’ 11th assist was his biggest as Spoelstra said he left the decision coming out of the time out in James’ hands. He found Allen.
“It was up to LeBron to make the read,” Spoelstra said. “We wanted to get him into the paint and do what he does best: Make decisions in a split second. Either he went to the rim for his own shot or find the open guy. That just happened to be where he found the opening. It was a crack. For a second.’’
Said Allen: “We were in a situation where LeBron had the ball in his hands and they have to figure out a way to stop it. I got to the corner and Brewer helped. He turned his head for just one brief second. And LeBron found me.’’
Saturday’s game was not big on defense as there were nice offensive numbers as both teams shot close to 52 percent from the floor.
Although Spoelstra said before Saturday’s game that the Heat wasn’t going to be able to beat teams by “simply outscoring them,”’ that’s what Miami did against the Nuggets.
Miami never really stopped Denver. Only the Nuggets couldn’t do much to stop Miami. And that was the difference Saturday.
The Heat was coming off a 20-point loss in New York on Friday night, a game in which Bosh refused to mince words when asked about it.
“We sucked,” Bosh said.
That wasn’t the case Saturday night — although Miami looks like it has some work to do this coming week.
Bosh, who scored 12 in the loss to the Knicks the night before, was a scoring machine against the Nuggets as he led all scorers. Yet a total of five players (three from Miami) scored 20 points or more with 11 scoring in double digits.
Bosh hit shots from all over the floor. Bosh opened the game by hitting his first three-pointer of the season and later gave Miami a 109-108 lead with 3:12 left on an uncontested dunk for his 40th point of the night.
“The opportunity was there, and I felt it. I wanted to be aggressive,” said Bosh, who had 20 points in each half. Bosh had scored 35 points on four previous occasions with the Heat and scored 30 points or more five times last season.
“After I got some open looks, I got to the free-throw line, got some layups. I started feeling a little better. I was taking what they were giving. They are a tough bunch over there. We have a lot of improvements to make.”