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Nuggets boss backs Issel

Owner Stan Kroenke ended his silence on the Nuggets staff, giving an endorsement to coach and president Dan Issel.

"Dan has done a good job," Kroenke said. "I think we have a bunch of good, young players who are getting better. I didn't feel bad about our team. I just felt there were times when people weren't communicating."

Kroenke has had little to say publicly about Issel since completing his purchase of the Nuggets, Avalanche and the Pepsi Center for $450-million in July. The team is 15-15, and at one point disgruntled players skipped a practice.

But Kroenke, who met with the team after that standoff, said he needed time to evaluate the situation.

Kroenke, a St. Louis developer and minority owner of the NFL's St. Louis Rams, said Thursday that he reminded players during that meeting that Issel had brought them to Denver and was their leader.

Issel has three years remaining on his four-year contract. The contracts of assistant coaches have not been renewed, but Kroenke said that did not mean much.

HEAT 98, WIZARDS 91: Eddie Jones scored 31 points and Tim Hardaway had 25 as host Miami ran its winning streak to four games. Jones, who matched his season-high point total, made four free throws in the final 35 seconds.

Washington, which lost its sixth straight, played without point guard Rod Strickland, who served a one-game suspension for violating several team rules. Filling in for Strickland, Chris Whitney had 16 points and six assists, but injured his right ankle.