Nuggets extend Cavaliers road losing streak

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 3, 2003

DENVER - LeBron vs. Carmelo the sequel was better than the original. It still had the same ending.

Carmelo Anthony scored 20 of his 26 points in the second half Tuesday night, leading the Denver Nuggets to a 115-103 victory over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Both players struggled in the first meeting, but showed glimpses of why there are the NBA's top two rookies in the second.

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''We gave you all what you wanted to see for the last time we are going to play each other this year,'' said James, who finished with 19 points.

Anthony was just 1-for-5 in the first half, but was 7-of-11 in the second to help Denver to its sixth straight home win.

He added five rebounds and blocked four shots for the Nuggets (11-6), who have won eight of 10 overall and are off to their best start since 1989-90.

''I was letting the game come to me in the second half,'' said Anthony, who outscored James 14-7 in their first meeting. ''I started out missing a couple of shots, but I stayed in the game and kept my head in it.''

James had six rebounds and five assists, but forced several shots in the second half and finished 6-for-19 in Cleveland's seventh straight loss. The Cavaliers have lost 32 straight road games - 0-11 this season - to tie the third-longest streak in league history.

''I am always going to be a winner,'' said James, who was wearing a John Elway jersey after the game. ''I might not get wins all the time, but I am always going to be a winner and that is not going to change. We'll get some wins. It's a long season.''

Denver won the first meeting 93-89 on Nov. 5, but the second game didn't have the fanfare or the celebrities of the original. Still, there was plenty of excitement.

Scalpers set up shop in the morning and a crowd of 19,610 were at the game, giving the Nuggets consecutive sellouts for the first time since March 1996.

About a dozen Denver Broncos players were in attendance, including Shannon Sharpe and Clinton Portis, who wore Nuggets' jerseys at center court. Colorado Avalanche star Peter Forsberg also was at the game.

''It was a great feeling,'' Anthony said.

Anthony didn't give them much to get excited about early, but got it going in the third quarter.

He hit a 3-pointer midway through, followed with a driving layup and hit five of six free throws to end the quarter with 10 points.

Anthony kept it going in the fourth quarter, faking a pass to set up a layup during a 10-0 run that put the Nuggets up 92-81 midway through. He added a rebound slam after James hit a 3-pointer on the other end, and had a layup off a steal to put the Nuggets up 102-93 with five minutes left.

''There is something about Carmelo that it drives you a little sideways as a coach in that he embraces the moment,'' Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said. ''I just need for the moment to happen sooner.''

James started off well after being booed during introductions, but struggled in the second and third quarters.

He opened the game with a three-point play on a break after he was fouled by Anthony, then had an assist on Carlos Boozer's baseline jumper that helped Cleveland open a 9-0 lead.

James followed with a 3-pointer, then set up Ira Newble's layup with a no-look bounce pass. But that was about it until the fourth quarter.

James played just five minutes in the second quarter and had an airball on a pullup jumper midway through the third quarter.

The fourth quarter opened with Chris Andersen swatting his layup away, but James followed with a 3-pointer and a nifty reverse with just over three minutes left.

''Our young boy struggled a little bit,'' Cavaliers coach Paul Silas said. ''He's trying to find himself and take it on his own to do a lot. You just can't do it that way, but he has learned a lot, and I am very satisfied with his play.''

Notes: Cleveland tied the 1953-54 Baltimore Bullets for third-longest road losing streak. … According to the NBA, James and Anthony have the top two selling jerseys online and at its store in New York. … The second quarter was delayed for several seconds after a kid latched onto the leg of Cleveland's Ricky Davis. The boy had been dancing with Nuggets mascot Rocky between quarters. … Denver's Jon Barry has hit 17 straight free throws. He was 3-for-3 against the Cavaliers. … Boozer had 13 points after missing six games with a sprained ankle, but C DeSagana Diop didn't play after injuring his knee Saturday against Memphis.