It was a road trip of attrition, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Chris Andersen and Norris Cole all missing time on the sojourn from Los Angeles to Sacramento to Portland to Denver.

Somehow, the Heat managed to come through at the finish, slipping past the Denver Nuggets 97-94 Monday night at the Pepsi Center, in a game that ended with Wade, Cole and Andersen unavailable to coach Erik Spoelstra.

"We don't make any excuses," Spoelstra said. "I like to see that resolve."

James, back after missing Saturday's victory in Portland due to a strained right groin, led the Heat with 26 points and 10 assists, none bigger than the last one to forward Michael Beasley for a 3-pointer with 30 seconds to play that put the Heat up four.

"That," James said, "was a huge shot."

Heat center Chris Bosh added 17 points, with Allen scoring 13 and Beasley nine.

Point guard Ty Lawson led the Nuggets with 26 points.

The Heat closed the trip 3-1, with the lone loss to the Kings in overtime,

"We wanted to end the trip the right way," James said, "and we ended it the right way.

"We could definitely use this going into the new year. We know 2013 was great, hopefully we can eclipse that."

The Heat ended the game and the 2013 portion of their schedule on a defensive stop, Denver, down by the final margin, unable to even inbound with 1.8 seconds to play, called for a five-seconds inbounding violation.

"We had some adversity," Spoelstra said, "and other guys have to step up."