Friday, November 14, 2008
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James, Cavaliers beat Nuggets 110-99

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[November 14, 2008]  CLEVELAND (AP) -- LeBron James just missed his first triple-double this season, but got something even more rare: A win over good buddy Carmelo Anthony.

James scored 22 points, most of them coming with Anthony guarding him, but Cleveland's megastar was on the bench when Mo Williams and the Cavaliers finally put away the Denver Nuggets and won their sixth straight, 110-99 on Thursday night.

DonutsWilliams scored a season-high 24 points and hit a crucial 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, a shot that put the Cavs ahead by 12 and sent James racing onto the floor in celebration.

James had lost his last five games against Anthony, whom he has known since high school, and is now just 3-8 against his U.S. Olympic teammate since they broke into the league together in 2003. James added 11 assists and eight rebounds as the Cavs beat the Nuggets for the first time since Dec. 15, 2005.

Daniel Gibson snapped out of a shooting slump and added 15 points as the Cavaliers, who held the Nuggets to 18 points in the fourth and 38 in the second half after giving up 61 in the first half.

The Nuggets lost for the first time in four games since acquiring Chauncey Billups in the blockbuster trade that sent Allen Iverson to Detroit.

Billups scored a season-high 26 points -- 18 in the first half -- Anthony had 18 and Kenyon Martin 12 with 10 rebounds for Denver. Martin, who had missed the previous two games with a sprained wrist, was ejected with 55 seconds left after he was called for a flagrant-2 foul for slamming his shoulder into Cleveland forward Anderson Varejao


Before leaving the floor, Martin screamed obscenities at referee Joey Crawford before he was grabbed by Nuggets coach George Karl and escorted off.

With the Cavaliers leading 94-85, James was replaced with 8:23 remaining. Denver hit a pair of 3-pointers to pull within 98-91, but Williams hit a jumper and then dropped a 3-pointer with 5:53 to give Cleveland a 103-91 lead. As Williams' ball was in the air, James walked onto the floor extending three fingers on both hands and then punched the air when the shot splashed through.

James' flurry in the final 1:35 of the third quarter gave the Cavaliers an 88-81 lead entering the fourth.

First, he drove the lane and dropped an off-balance layup while being fouled by Anthony. He completed a three-point play to make it 83-81, and after JR Smith hit a 3-pointer for Denver, James set up Gibson on the wing and the Cavs guard, who missed all six 3s on Tuesday against Milwaukee, finally knocked down a long-range shot.

Cavs coach Mike Brown was confident Gibson would find his touch eventually. Before the game, Brown was asked what he might tell his guard.

"Shoot, Boobie, shoot," Brown said in a high-pitched voice.

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James then closed the period by pulling up and hitting a 19-footer in the final second.

James said Anthony, who was drafted two spots behind James in 2003, never missed a chance to remind him of his domination in their matchups.

"He finds a way to mention that every now and then," James said.

Cleveland shot 61 percent, Denver 60 as neither team played little defense.

There was no need for a 24-second shot clock in the first quarter as the teams combined for 69 points while playing at a dizzying pace reminiscent of the old ABA in the 1970s, when defense was nothing more than a rumor.

Billups scored 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the first quarter, and the Nuggets went 5-for-5 on 3-pointers and shot 74 percent (14-of-19) from the floor.

Notes: Cleveland's Ben Wallace had a season-high 11 points but sat out the fourth with a bruised left knee. ... James, who had scored exactly 41 points in each of Cleveland's past four games, became the first player to score at least 40 points three times in his team's first eight games since Michael Jordan in 1991. ... Karl has been thrilled with Billups. "Chauncey has been wonderful," Karl said. "He's fit in very well. I think things will improve even more as time goes and once we all adjust. We're moving the ball well and getting everyone involved."

[Associated Press; By TOM WITHERS]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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