Cavs: Daniel Gibson, Larry Hughes, LeBron James, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas Nuggets: Allen Iverson, Yakhouba Diaware, Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, Marcus Camby
--Sasha Pavlovic is out with back spasms, although he is still active. --This is maybe the toughest back-to-back the Cavs have this season, considering it is the fourth game in five nights, the last game on a six-game trip and in Denver. However, the Nuggets are coming off a four-game road trip, which has certain affects. --Rebounding will be a big factor in the game. The Nuggets like to run and push it after defensive rebounds. The Cavs are not great at transition defense and tend to hoist a lot of jumpers that lead to long rebounds. It may be hard to control. Same goes for turnovers, which the Cavs give away from time to time. --The Nuggets will try a bunch different guys on LeBron, the idea is to keep him away from the basket. --Not sure how Daniel Gibson covers A.I.
Larry Hughes ejection --Maybe those of you watching on television have some information I am not aware of, but it appeared that Larry had been complaining two or three straight trips down the floor about a non-foul call on a jump shot. Whatever he said to Bill Spooner must have been magic, because he ejected him with anger, punching the air as he tossed him. I couldn't read his lips on the replay but I'm sure he'll be asked after the game.
It is never good to get thrown out, but with Sasha Pavlovic already out and the Cavs a little gassed from last night it might come back and haunt them. Look for Ira Newble to get some extra minutes now.
Halftime -- Nuggets 58, Cavs 43 --This one is going about like you'd expect considering the circumstances. The Nuggets are quicker and more focused than the Cavs and they are pushing them around. They are beating them back and getting free and easy points. This is what the Nuggets do and often this is what the Cavs allow them to do. They've won six of the last eight. --The Cavs are back to playing lazy and slow offense, they are shooting just 35 percent because they are standing and dribbling and playing 1-on-1 basketball a great deal. --LeBron is playing hard and the Nuggets can't defend him. Doesn't look like it will be enough. --Save the e-mails on the free throw shooting and all the tips for LeBron. He will not change until he decides he wants to change. It is not good, everybody knows it. LeBron has drawn nine fouls but he's not taking advantage. --Despite that, the big difference in the game is really the spurt at the start of the second quarter when the Cavs committed five turnovers and it fueled the Nuggets' big run. --Iverson is just too quick for anyone the Cavs can put on him, Gibson is getting frustrated. --The Nuggets have 30 points in the paint, which is terrible for the Cavs defense. That is an out of control number. --Folks, I am not kidding, Coolio is singing "1, 2, 3, 4" live here right now. My head is bouncing from memories of my college days. Oh, now he's doing "Fantastic Voyage." --The Nuggets will shoot the opposition back into games, but it will take some effort I don't see in the Cavs tonight. This has the potential for a mega blowout.
Postgame -- Nuggets 122, Cavs 100 Stars Allen Iverson, 37 points, eight assists...and lots of lessons given to Daniel Gibson Carmelo Anthony, 22 points, nine rebounds...and gamesmanship, see below. LeBron James, 27 points *I refuse to acknowledge garbage time submissions
--Larry Hughes said he was complaining because Carmelo Anthony was hitting him on the arm whenever he took a jump shot and the referees were not responding to his pleas to get a call. Here's what he said: "I said what I had to say and it's over with. I got hit four straight times and I asked him to call a foul. Melo kept smacking my arm. He was trying to get away with it, on the first shot he fell and then smacked me on the leg and that started it off. It's a good tactic if you can get away with it. You have to be allowed to say something about it. Any time you get ejected it's over the top. You say what you have to say. I am not going to drag it on, I want to move on." --Cavs played like they were ready to go home and so now they are. They didn't try very hard on either end, though some disagree with that (see farther below). Not even for pride's sake, considering the Nuggets are 7-2 against them in the LeBron era. --Not sure how much analysis can be done on this one. It was the most points the Cavs have given up in the Mike Brown era in regulation, that tells you something about the defensive effort. In general, the Cavs did not play very good defense on this trip. They did so in spurts and it got them some wins, but they were nowhere near the level they were at a year ago. --Nuggets numbers: 50 points in the paint, 21 fastbreak points, 55 percent shooting. --Considering the schedule, 4-4 is a fair start. In the George Karl standings (road wins minus home losses) the Cavs are at +2 right now. Believe it or not, that's the same as Boston though it is early. --Wednesday is a tough game. Cavs are coming home from the trip and Orlando is 4-0 on the road. That will be a fair test to see where the Cavs are at.
Quotes Mike Brown: "We got our behinds beat from me on down." LeBron James: "I'm not too disappointed. We didn't execute offensively or defensively. I think we tried to do some things right. I'm not disappointed in our effort, not today. We played well out here and now we can go home."