for this game

James leads Cavaliers to sixth straight win

Nov 14, 2008 - 5:44 AM By Jeff Brewer PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- LeBron James and the new-look, up-tempo Cleveland Cavaliers sent a message on Thursday.

The Cavs continued to roll, erasing a halftime deficit to win their sixth straight game with a 110-99 triumph over the Denver Nuggets. Not only did they show off their faster style of play, but it appears James has found his sidekick in the form of Mo Williams.

James - fresh off back-to-back 41-point performances - just his missed his first triple-double of the season, collecting 22 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists. More importantly, he didn't have to do it all himself. Williams - the club's big offseason acquisition picked up in an August trade with the Milwaukee Bucks - added 24 points and six assists and did some damage even with James on the bench to keep Cleveland afloat.

"We have to keep the momentum going," James said. "Our offense put up 110 points and it didn't seem like it."

The Cavaliers got scoring from everywhere in the decisive third quarter as they began to pull away. Delonte West buried a pair of 3-pointers early in the period as Cleveland quickly climbed back from a 61-58 halftime deficit to take control.

"Whatever it takes, (the Cavaliers) are going to figure out what it takes to win, more so than last year," Denver coach George Karl said. "The first half, we played very well. I don't know whether we ran out of gas, or what happened."

The Nuggets briefly pulled even late in the quarter, but Ben Wallace knocked down a pair of foul shots and James added a three-point play to give Cleveland the lead for good. Daniel Gibson knocked down a pair of runners early in the fourth to extend the lead to double-digits.

"We want to control the fourth quarter," Williams said. "We have one of the best players in the game. So we're comfortable in the fourth quarter."

As impressive as the Cavaliers looked on the offensive end, they did it with defense in the second half, limiting the Nuggets to 38 points on 13-of-36 from the floor. They have now held seven of their nine opponents under 100 points.

"The first team that decided to defend a little bit in the second half was going to win the game," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said.

They also kept themselves in check against Denver, committing a season-low nine turnovers.

The loss was the first of the Chauncey Billups era for the Nuggets, who had been 3-0 since acquiring him from the Detroit Pistons last week. The veteran point guard led Denver with 26 points and six assists, while Carmelo Anthony added 18 and eight rebounds.

With both teams playing well coming into the night, the game had a playoff feel from the start. The Nuggets' offense erupted at the outset to take a 36-33 lead - thanks in large measure to Billups, who fired in 16 in the period and knocked down four 3-pointers.

"They started trapping my pick-and-rolls, which I expected them to do," Billups said. "They played me a lot like that when I played in Detroit."

The Cavaliers shot a sizzling 61 percent from the floor in the first half, but still trailed, 61-58. Denver shot 60 percent and outrebounded Cleveland, 18-12, over the first two quarters.

"We gave up 61 points in the first half and that's not our identity," James said.

James picked up his third career win against Denver in 11 tries. The series has been a focal point since James and Anthony came into the league as the first and third draft picks, respectively, in 2003. Last year, the Nuggets clobbered the Cavs by 30 and 22 points.

"We had trouble with transition defense with Denver in the past," James said.

Anthony did catch James with an inadvertent elbow to the face on a drive to the basket with 9:28 to play. James hit the floor in obvious pain, but was all right.

Six Cavaliers scored in double figures. Daniel Gibson finished with 15 points off the bench.

"This is our worst defensive effort of the year," Karl added. "It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good."