Cavs Can't Cool Off Nuggets, Fall Short at The Q

Denver Drills 19 Triples as Wine & Gold's Home Woes Continue
David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

Wrap-Up -- The Cavaliers weren’t facing Doug Moe’s free-wheeling, high-scoring Nuggets from the ‘70s on Saturday night, but it’d be hard to tell from looking at the scoreboard.

Denver canned 19 triples – including three in the final two minutes – to prolong the Wine & Gold’s struggles on their home floor, taking the, 126-117, decision on Saturday night at The Q.

The Cavaliers had no problem on the offensive end – with seven players notching double-figures and the team as a whole shooting 52 percent from the floor. Cleveland’s woes on Saturday night came on the defensive end, as the Nuggets – playing on the second night of a back-to-back – shot 55 percent from the floor, 54 percent from long-distance and 87 percent from the stripe.

Cleveland trailed by as many as 15 points in the third quarter before cutting Denver’s lead to a single point – 115-114 – with 2:40 to play in the fourth. But the Nuggets canned consecutive bombs on their next two possessions to put the game out of reach in the final seconds.

LeBron James notched his 13th triple-double of the season – leading Cleveland with 25 points, 15 assists and 10 boards, going 8-of-19 from the floor and 8-of-11 from the stripe.

J.R. Smith, fresh off a one-game suspension, did all of his damage after the intermission – netting all 19 points in the second half, going 7-for-12 from the floor on the night, including 2-of-5 from long-range.

George Hill had a solid night offensively – finishing with 17 points, going 6-of-10 from the field and 3-of-4 from three-point range. Tristan Thompson chipped in with 12 points and seven boards, and Cedi Osman notched 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting.

Larry Nance Jr. chipped in with 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench – going 6-of-10 from the floor, including what might have been the dunk of the year, an explosive one-handed baseline jam over a helpless Mason Plumlee.

Jordan Clarkson notched double-figures for the seventh time in his eight outings as a Cavalier – tallying 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting, including 2-of-3 from deep.

JR Smith


Despite having all five starters score in double-digits, the Cavs were unable to rally past the Nuggets on Saturday night.

The Nuggets got a game-high 32 points from Gary Harris – who went 10-of-17 from the field, drilling six of Denver’s 19 triples. Will Barton, who came in averaging 22.0 points in his last four games off the bench against Cleveland, repeated the feat on Saturday – finishing with 23 points on 9-for-17 shooting, adding eight boards and seven assists.

Nikola Jokic – the best passing center in the league – showed his stuff in the win, leading Denver with eight assists to go with nine points and seven boards.

Turning Point -- Just like the turning point in Tuesday night’s win over the Nets, this one was easy to spot – and it came in the game’s closing moments.

After going on a 13-2 run to whittle away part of Denver’s 15-point edge late in the third quarter, the Cavaliers kept chipping away in the fourth – with free throws from J.R. Smith and LeBron James cutting the Nuggets’ lead to just a point with 2:40 to play.

But that was about as good as it’d get for the Wine & Gold. Treys by Paul Millsap and Gary Harris – followed by a Wilson Chandler dunk – put the Nuggets up nine, 123-114. Harris canned another triple for good measure after a Swish miss – putting Saturday’s affair on ice and sending the Wine & Gold to their fourth home loss since the break.

By the Numbers545 … Three-pointers that J.R. Smith has canned as a Cavalier – moving him past Danny Ferry and into seventh-place on the franchise’s all-time list.

QuotableJ.R. Smith, on his different mindset before and after halftime …

"I got better looks and just tried to be aggressive…(in the first half). I really didn’t see much opportunity. In the second half, I just figured, the hell with it – just be more aggressive and if they double me, try and get around them and then make a play. But just a different mindset I guess."

Up Next -- After falling to the Nuggets on Saturday night, the Wine & Gold wrap up their longest homestand of the season on Monday night when they welcome Andre Drummond and the Pistons to town for the final time this season. After that, the Cavaliers hit the road for their longest trip of the campaign – tipping off on Wednesday night against these same Nuggets. From there, Cleveland travels to Tinseltown for a Friday night meeting with the Clippers followed by a Sunday evening showdown with the Lakers. On Tuesday night, they travel to Phoenix for a matchup against the Suns and take on the Blazers two night later in Portland. The Cavs close out the roadie next Saturday night – St. Patrick’s Day – in the Windy City.

Calls of the Game

#CavsNuggets Postgame: LeBron James – March 3, 2018

Cavaliers forward LeBron James spoke with the media following Saturday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets at Quicken Loans Arena.

Video Playlist: Cavs vs. Nuggets - March 3, 2018

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#CavsNuggets Postgame: LeBron James – March 3, 2018

Cavaliers forward LeBron James spoke with the media following Saturday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets at Quicken Loans Arena.
Mar 3, 2018  |  04:33

#CavsNuggets Postgame: George Hill - March 3, 2018

Cavaliers guard George Hill spoke with the media following Saturday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets at Quicken Loans Arena.
Mar 3, 2018  |  02:48

#CavsNuggets Postgame: Larry Nance Jr.– March 3, 2018

Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. spoke with the media following Saturday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets at Quicken Loans Arena.
Mar 3, 2018  |  02:42

#CavsNuggets Postgame: Coach Lue - March 3, 2018

Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue spoke with the media following Saturday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets at Quicken Loans Arena.
Mar 3, 2018  |  07:44

GAME RECAP: Nuggets 126, Cavaliers 117

Gary Harris scores 32 points and Will Barton adds 23 as the Nuggets defeat the Cavaliers 126-117.
Mar 3, 2018  |  01:54

LeBron James Grabs Triple-Double vs. Denver

LeBron James tallies 25 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in the Cavs', 126-117, loss to the Nuggets.
Mar 3, 2018  |  01:18

Swish Fakes Out Defender, Drains Bucket

Swish brings the game to within three late in the fourth after faking out a Nuggets defender and draining the jump shot.
Mar 3, 2018  |  00:13

Clarkson Nails Corner Trey

Jordan Clarkson nails a corner three near the end of the third quarter to bring the Cavs within four points of the Nuggets.
Mar 3, 2018  |  00:10

LBJ Drops a Slick Dime to TT

James handles the ball in the paint before dumping it off to Tristan Thompson who sends it sky high for a layup in the third quarter against the Nuggets.
Mar 3, 2018  |  00:08

Swish Hits Pretty Stepback Jumper

JR Smith nails a slick jump shot during the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.
Mar 3, 2018  |  00:08

Intel True View: Cedi Nails Dunk

Experience Intel True View with this unique angle of Cedi's first quarter dunk.
Mar 3, 2018  |  00:18

Intel True View: TT Grabs Alley-Oop

Experience Intel True View with this unique angle of LBJ's lob to Thompson in the first quarter.
Mar 3, 2018  |  00:15

Intel True View: Hill Buries Trey

Experience Intel True View with this unique angle of George Hill's first half trey.
Mar 3, 2018  |  00:16

Featured Highlight: Nance Jr. Jams It

Larry Nance Jr. goes up for a monster one-handed jam in the second quarter, bringing the bench, and the crowd, to their feet.
Mar 3, 2018  |  00:13

Clarkson Powers Past Denver Defense

Jordan Clarkson takes the ball down the court before powering past a Denver defender enroute to a spectacular bucket.
Mar 3, 2018  |  00:11

LBJ Connects with TT on Dunk

LeBron James and Tristan Thompson are "More Driven" after executing a perfect alley-oop dunk in the first quarter against the Nuggets.
Mar 3, 2018  |  00:13

Cedi Throws It Down Hard

Cedi Osman throws down a big dunk against the Nuggets after LBJ makes a nice assist in the first quarter.
Mar 3, 2018  |  00:10

#CavsNuggets Shootaround:JR Smith-March 3, 2018

Cavaliers guard JR Smith spoke with the media following Saturday's shootaround at Cleveland Clinic Courts.
Mar 3, 2018  |  05:10

#CavsNuggets Shootaround:LeBron James-March 3, 2018

Cavaliers forward LeBron James spoke with the media following Saturday's shootaround at Cleveland Clinic Courts.
Mar 3, 2018  |  04:39