Final Dime: Nuggets 127, Cavaliers 99

by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

J.J. Hickson finished with 13 points and nine boards on Saturday night in Denver.
Garrett Elwood
NBAE/Getty Images

1. Sporting just eight healthy bodies – and losing one of them, Mo Williams, before halftime – the road-weary Cavaliers were no match for a red-hot Nuggets team on its home floor.

Cleveland surrendered a franchise-tying 80 points in the first half, en route to the 127-99 drubbing – running the Wine and Gold’s losing streak to a baker’s dozen. The reeling Cavaliers haven’t won on the road since November 16.

The Nuggets shot 67 percent in the first half – canning eight of their first 10 three-point attempts – and took a 31-point lead into the locker room. The young Cavaliers competed after intermission – outscoring the Nuggets, 29-22, in the fourth quarter. But by then, the outcome was settled and the five-game West Coast roadie was nearing a merciful end.

“It’s pretty simple – too much Denver Nuggets and not enough Cavs,” said Coach Byron Scott. “Mo went down, and that just really ate us up for the rest of the night. The young guys, I thought, played hard.”

Ramon Sessions led seven Cavaliers in double-figures with 21 points – going 7-for-13 from the floor and 7-of-8 from the stripe, adding a game-high nine assists.

“We had some guys playing out of position,” said Sessions. “We’re not out here complaining. We’re going to play hard, but (the Nuggets) were the better team tonight.”

Antawn Jamison followed up with 17 points – despite missing his first five shots and going 0-for-6 from beyond the arc. On the trip, Jamison was easily Cleveland’s best player, averaging 18.6 points per contest on the extended junket.

For the game, the Cavaliers shot 38 percent to the Nuggets’ 58. Denver was 13-for-21 from beyond the arc and out-ran Cleveland, 24-10, on the break.

Manny Harris and J.J. Hickson notched 14 and 13 points, respectively, with Hickson adding a team-high nine boards. Alonzo Gee chipped in with a season-high 12 points, eight boards and a career-high six steals.

Jamario Moon tallied 12 points, five boards and a pair of blocks in 29 minutes of action and Samardo Samuels cracked double-figures with 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting, adding eight boards.

The Cavaliers finish the road trip at 0-5 and return home for a couple days off before welcoming Steve Nash and the Suns to The Q on Wednesday night.

2. With Mo and Boobie banged up, Ramon Sessions continues his strong play off the bench. Over his last seven games, he’s averaged 14.0 points and 6.4 assists per contest.

3. Cavs assistant, Jamahl Mosley, made his return to Denver after spending the last five years with the Nuggets staff.

“(Jamahl) is very close to us,” said Nuggets coach George Karl. “We check with him probably on a weekly basis and we hope (the Cavs) get back on track very quickly – except for the two games in January against us.”

4. On the other side, former Cavs assistant Melvin Hunt is now a member of George Karl’s staff in Denver. Hunt, who stopped by the Cavaliers locker room to say hello, was with the Wine and Gold from 2005-10.

5. Daniel Gibson – who joined the team in Los Angeles after spraining his left ankle in Cleveland – and Christian Eyenga – who re-injured his right ankle in Los Angles – both dressed, but did now play with the Wine and Gold getting three days off before hitting the court again.

6. Both Byron Scott – who’s been a Steelers fan since elementary school – and George Karl – who grew up in Pittsburgh – watched the end of the Ravens-Steelers game before coming out to talk to the media. Karl addressed reporters in his Steelers jacket. Scott opted not to do so.

“I can’t wear (my Steelers gear) a lot,” joked Scott. “I take it easy in Cleveland. I have to be respectful of our fans and the Browns fans, so I don’t walk around with my Steelers stuff in Cleveland.”

7. After Friday night’s game in Utah, center Ryan Hollins traveled back to California to attend the funeral of a family member.

8. Despite having Gibson and Eyenga in uniform, Byron Scott was actually down to just eight available bodies on Saturday. He’s never been that shorthanded before as a coach. “This will be the first,” said Scott. “I’ve never had to look down the bench and see just three guys in uniform.”

9. Jamison has been the Cavaliers’ Mr. Consistency – averaging 22.4 ppg in the month of January and notching double-figures in all but seven games the entire season.

10. The Cavaliers wrapped up their longest road trip of the season. They’ll make one more multiple game trip out west – in mid-March, taking on Sacramento, Portland and the Clippers. Cleveland has only five home games in the month of January, but play just two games on the road in February and just 13 away from The Q after this month.

Joe Gabriele is the official beat writer for the Cleveland Cavaliers on You can follow Joe and send him your questions on Twitter at @CavsJoeG.