Carmelo Anthony scored 27 points, All-Star sidekick Allen Iverson added 25 and the Denver Nuggets rolled to a 113-83 win Sunday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Anthony didn't have to play in the fourth quarter and improved to 8-2 in his pro career against good friend LeBron James, who scored 30 points - in three quarters - but got little help from a Cleveland team missing four key players, including two starters.
Though shorthanded, the Cavs have been able to get by playing good defense but they didn't do nearly enough to slow the Nuggets, who handed Cleveland its worst home loss this season.
Denver led by 11 points after one quarter, 18 at halftime and pushed its advantage to 26 by the end of the third. At the end of the period, James stormed off the court, took a seat at the far end of Cleveland's bench and didn't take part in coach Mike Brown's huddle before the fourth quarter began.
As he sat alone, Cavaliers guard Damon Jones yelled in James' direction. But Cleveland's superstar never acknowledged his teammate and stared straight ahead without saying a word.
James might be wondering when he might get some help like Anthony has or what Kobe Bryant now has with the Los Angeles Lakers or when Cleveland general manager Danny Ferry might pull off a blockbuster trade.
James didn't play in the fourth quarter when the Cavs fell behind by 37 points.
Anthony, coming off a 49-point performance in a win against Washington, went 11-of-19 from the floor and added eight rebounds in 32 minutes. He, too, spent the fourth quarter on the sideline, savoring Denver's fifth straight win over Cleveland.
Iverson added 13 assists and Marcus Camby 17 rebounds for Denver.
The Cavaliers were again shorthanded as injuries continued to plague the Eastern Conference champions.
Drew Gooden missed his third game in a row with a strained right groin and Daniel Gibson, the team's top long-range shooter, sat out his second straight because of a strained hamstring. On top of that, Cleveland didn't have forward Anderson Varejao (sprained ankle) or swingman Sasha Pavlovic (sprained foot).
Also, Jones went to the locker room in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle and center Zydrunas Ilgauskas was also forced to spend the final 12 minutes getting treatment for back spasms.
The Cavs, however, were hurting long before that.
Denver led 63-45 at halftime and quickly upped its lead to 23 after Iverson opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer and Kenyon Martin scored inside. James helped trim Denver's lead to 15, but Iverson and Anthony never relaxed and the Nuggets pushed their lead to 90-64 entering the fourth.
James and Anthony first met as sophomores in high school when they faced each other during a U.S. Olympic Festival in Colorado Springs.
"I remember going home and telling my friends you should see this kid from Baltimore," James recalled.
They played against each other twice over the next two years with Anthony leading Oak Hill Academy to wins over James and his St. Vincent-St. Mary's High School team. Anthony has gotten the best of James in the NBA, too, a trend that shows no signs of ending.
The Nuggets shot 63 percent in the first quarter as the Cavaliers did little defensively to prevent Denver from scoring. Iverson and Anthony each knocked down wide-open 3s during a 16-0 spurt that put the Nuggets ahead by 13.
They only cooled off slightly in the second quarter, taking a 63-45 lead into the locker room at halftime.
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