DENVER: Beaten up, beaten down and smacked around, the Cavaliers concluded their dreadful West Coast trip Saturday night. It wasn't any different than all of the other stops.
Another injury, another lopsided defeat, another game closer to the end of a miserable season.
The Cavs were smashed by the Denver Nuggets on Saturday 127-99 to complete an 0-5 trip. More importantly, they began the game with just eight available bodies and ended it with seven.
Ryan Hollins left the team to return to Los Angeles for a death in the family, then Mo Williams left five minutes into the game and did not return because of a recurring left hip flexor injury.
Williams was out of the locker room by the time reporters were allowed in and Cavs coach Byron Scott didn't know the severity of the injury.
Regardless, it's another blow to a team already crippled and limping. The Cavs only had a chance to win one game on the trip — at Phoenix — and lost the five games by an average of 26 points.
"Tough trip,'' Scott said. "We played some really good teams ... we knew that. We knew we'd have to play some good basketball in order to have a chance to beat Ain't much more you can ask for with seven guys out there and some guys playing out of positionthose teams. So 0-5 is not what we wanted to do, but I think we're going home understanding that we still played hard, we still competed, we just didn't have enough. Hopefully we can get some guys healthy.''
Williams acknowledged earlier on this trip that it is the most beaten up he has been in a season. If not for all of his wounded teammates, he would be the one sitting out because of groin and hip injuries that have sapped him from much of the strength in his legs.
Williams entered the night shooting 38.8 percent from the floor, well below his career average of 44.4. He is shooting less than 27 percent on 3-pointers (34 of 128) despite shooting nearly 39 percent on 3-pointers in his career.
The Cavs are off until Wednesday when they host the Phoenix Suns. By then, they hope to have both Daniel Gibson and Christian Eyenga back in the lineup. Right now, they're desperately hunting for healthy bodies from anywhere.
"Ain't much more you can ask for,'' guard Ramon Sessions said, "with seven guys out there and some guys playing out of position.''
Sessions replaced Williams and led the Cavs with 21 points and nine assists while logging 22 minutes off the bench. Antawn Jamison scored 17 points and J.J. Hickson had 13 points and nine rebounds, but the Cavs lost their 13th straight and 19th straight on the road. They have now dropped 23 of 24.
"We're professionals,'' Sessions said. "We just have to show up to work every day, continue to work hard and give it all you've got.''
Scott said before Saturday's game he would reinforce to his players before they took the court that there was still one more game to play, and to not pack for home until they stay focused and gave a good effort.
Then the Cavs got beat in transition, left 3-point shooters open in the corners and were blown off the floor with an 80-point first half that tied a franchise record for most points allowed in a half.
The Nuggets shot a higher percentage on 3-pointers (62 percent) than they did from the floor (58 percent). They narrowly missed scoring 130 points in their third straight game, but did score 46 points in the second quarter. The Cavs scored 49 in the first half.
The Nuggets scored on 11 consecutive possessions during one stretch of the second, turning what was already a comfortable 53-35 lead into a 77-44 demolition.
"Too much Denver Nuggets and not enough Cavs,'' Scott said. "The young guys I thought played hard, though. The effort was great, we just played a team with too much firepower. As short-handed as we are right now, it puts us in a bad position.''
Nene had 22 points, Chauncey Billups had 21 points and eight assists and Arron Afflalo had 17 points for the Nuggets, who are marching through the storm of Carmelo Anthony trade rumors.
The Nuggets continue to play well despite the Anthony anvil hanging over the franchise. He scored 12 points in 27 relatively quiet minutes against the Cavs, who lost Anderson Varejao and Williams on this trip. Daniel Gibson and Anthony Parker were hurt before the trip began, meaning Antawn Jamison is the only healthy starter remaining from the lineup Scott used just a couple of weeks ago.
"I've never had to dress just eight players, then we get one hurt and we're down to seven,'' Scott said. "I've never been through a stretch like this. Our guys are going to just keep working and keep fighting and hopefully we can get some healthy bodies back.''
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