DENVER (AP) -- 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.
"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
"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
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."
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.
After their Game 5 loss to the Cavaliers, Stephen A. Smith has some harsh criticism for the Raptors, saying, "It was one of the most pathetic performances that I've ever seen in my life."
The Cleveland Cavaliers vaporized the Toronto Raptors in Game 5, smothering the Canadian backcourt to take a 3-2 series lead in the East finals.
LeBron James praises teammate Kevin Love's aggressive mentality on the court that fueled the Cavaliers' Game 5 win over the Raptors.