Thursday , Dec , 15 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Cavs top Nuggets to end slide

Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) – LeBron James scored 26 points and Damon
Jones added 17 off the bench as Cleveland stopped a season-high three-game
slide with a 94-85 victory over Denver at Quicken Loans Arena.

James had his club-record streak of six games with at least 30 points come to
an end, but the Cavaliers had dropped five of those contests. Cleveland showed
far more balance this time around, with Zydrunas Ilgauskas contributing 16
points in his return from a sprained knee and three other Cavs’ players
finishing in double figures.

Carmelo Anthony recorded 23 points but made just 8-of-23 field-goal attempts
for the Nuggets, who shot just 38 percent from the floor and fell for only the
second time in six outings. Greg Buckner and Earl Watson ended with 15 and 14
points, respectively, in defeat.

Denver played without center Marcus Camby, sidelined with a sprained right
finger, while point guard Earl Boykins missed his second straight game with an
injured hamstring.

The Cavaliers trailed 72-71 with seven minutes remaining, but Jones buried a
three-pointer and scored off a Donyell Marshall steal seconds later to give
the hosts a four-point lead.

Cleveland then began to pull away late, as a James’ layup and a Marshall
three-pointer extended the margin to 83-76 with 3:45 remaining. Marshall sank
another triple two minutes later to end a 13-4 run and put the Cavs up 91-80.

Back-to-back baskets by Ilgauskas sparked a string of 11 straight Cleveland
points which snapped a 50-50 tie in the third quarter, but Denver answered
with a 15-0 spurt, capped by consecutive threes from Watson, to go up 65-61 in
the waning seconds of the period.

Both clubs had double-digit leads during a roller-coaster first half that
ended with the Cavs on top, 44-40.

Denver opened up an early 17-7 advantage, with Buckner netting the Nuggets’
final seven points of that initial spurt. However, Cleveland would counter
with a 10-0 run and drew even on a three-point play from James with 3:11 left
in the first quarter.

James, who poured in 12 points during the opening frame, drained a three-
pointer at the buzzer to put the Cavs ahead 24-19 at period’s end. A Marshall
basket and Jones’ shot from beyond the arc extended the margin to 10 points
less than a minute into the second quarter.

Denver then reeled off 14 straight points to move back in front. A layup and
free throw by Andre Miller followed by Kenyon Martin’s dunk off a Watson feed
gave the visitors a 33-29 advantage with six minutes to go in the half.

Cleveland, however, closed out the second quarter with an 8-1 burst, finished
by Larry Hughes’ driving layup in the final seconds, to take a four-point edge
into the break.

Game Notes

James left the contest with 29 seconds remaining in the first half with a shin
contusion but returned after intermission…Ilgauskas sat out Tuesday’s loss
to Atlanta with his injury…Marshall compiled 11 points and 12 rebounds in
the victory…Cleveland has won eight of their last 10 meetings with Denver as
the home team…Denver is 2-2 on its current six-game road swing which
concludes with games at New Jersey and Atlanta…Anthony is averaging 32
points over his last four outings.