The Cavaliers hit triple digits for the fifth time in six games and ‘’hold’’ the Nuggets to just under 100.
And they did it with defense, the way Mike Brown likes his team to play. A little perspective – the Nuggets scored just 38 points in the second half and a white-hot Chauncey Billups was put on ice for much of that time. He scored 18 in the first half and finished with 26.
The Cavs have won games much like this one this season when LeBron James took over. He scored just 22 and proved instrumental in the win, but while he rested on the bench in the fourth quarter, point guard Mo Williams took over the game, scoring 8 points in the quarter. He had help, of course, throughout the second half as Daniel ‘’Boobie’’ Gibson found his shot. Toward the end of the third quarter going into the fourth, he scored 9 consecutive points.
Coach Mike Brown on the first half:
The first half was a rat race. Capital R-A-T R-A-C-E. Rat race. It’s tough because it’s early in the season, but our guys regrouped, refocused and came out and played the right way on the both sides of the floor. I have to feel proud of them for that.
Daniel Gibson on hitting 7-of-11 and getting his stroke back:
‘’I felt like it was just a matter of time (before getting his stroke back),’’ he said. ‘’This year I’ve gotten shots in bulk as opposed to previous years where they were a minimum, so I had to make sure I concentrated and knocked them down.’’
At the half:
Neither team seems to be interested in playing any form of defense. The Cavaliers have given up 26 points in the paint, the Nuggets 32. The Cavs shot 61 percent from the floor. The Nuggets close to 60. The buckets are coming too fast and too easily. Mo Williams leads the Cavs with 16 points; Chauncey Billups returns to haunt the Cavs with 18.
Game: Cavs (7-2) vs. Denver Nuggets (4-4)
WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); Ben Wallace (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G). Nuggets: Carmelo Anthony (F); Kenyon Martin (F); Nene (C); Dahntay Jones (G); Chauncey Billups (G).
Officials: Joe Crawford, Bennie Adams, Derrick Collins
Streaking: The Cavaliers own a five game willing streak. Denver has won three-in-a-row and they are undefeated in their last five meetings with the Cavaliers.
Three things to watch:
1) Chauncey Billups vs. Mo Williams. Two point guards running up tempo offenses should make hoops fans salivate and some of Billups’ numbers are actually up since arriving in Denver from Detroit. He averages 15.7 points per game, although his assists are down.
2) To say that Daniel Gibson had a rough outing against the Bucks would be generous. Gibson is 5-of-20 in the past three games and 3-of-14 on 3-point attempts while it’s too early to call it a slump, if he doesn’t pop out of it tonight, Coach Mike Brown will have to look to get more out of the rest of his bench.
Assorted updates throughout the evening
3) LeBron vs. Melo – This was supposed to be a big time rivalry when they both entered the NBA Draft at the same time. Problem is they’ve only seen one another twice a year since. Kind of hard to build a rivalry that way and James knows it. Still, it should prove fun to watch these two go at it.
From the coach’s office:
Mike Brown on Chauncey Billups’ move to Denver:
He brings a lot of stability in terms of running that team. They still want to get out and run. Their fast break numbers have gone up since he’s been there, but it’s just a little bit more controlled…Chauncey’s more of a set-up guy than a guy who’s going to go get his own. (But) he’s shown he can get his own in big numbers.
Denver coach, George Karl, on Chauncey Billups:
We’ve won three games, so you can’t complain. What’s exciting for all of us is that there’s a window of improvement that’s definitively there…Our defense is probably ahead of our offense and we have good offensive players who, in time, will get better.
Billups on his experiences in Cleveland:
They were a big-time rival of ours when we were in Detroit. We played them twice in the playoffs since I’d been there. We beat them once and they beat us once. But just a lot of great battles in this building.
On playing here in a different uniform:
It’s weird. It will probably get a little weird later when the game starts.