Nuggets Pull Away from Cavs

January 11, 2013
Shaun Livingston

Wrap-Up – Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, a tale of two halves has been the tale of 2012-13, which has seen the Wine and Gold routinely putting together a strong first stanza only to see their efforts dashed early in the third quarter and late in the fourth.

That was the formula again on Friday night in the Mile High City as the Cavaliers led the Nuggets by 11 at intermission, but tallied just 35 points in the second half and were outscored 9-2 in the final two minutes to drop a difficult 98-91 decision in Denver.

Kyrie Irving led both teams with 28 points – going 11-for-26 from the floor with seven assists and a game-high five steals. Dion Waiters followed up with 18 points off the bench and Tristan Thompson added 16 points and seven boards. For the Nuggets, Canton native Kosta Koufos notched a career-high 21 points – including 17 in the second half – as Denver manhandled the Cavaliers on the inside, netting 58 points in the paint and outrebounding the Wine and Gold, 56-35.

Turning Point – Early in the fourth quarter, George Karl made the decision to guard Kyrie Irving with Andre Iguodala – a move that paid off big for the Nuggets. After getting a touch of the flu, Kyrie wasn’t 100 percent on Friday – and Iguodala made him feel it in the fourth. After starting the game 7-for-16 from the floor through the first three quarters, Irving was 4-of-10 with no assists in the final period.

Game BallDion Waiters – Waiters looked comfortable in his role off the bench on Friday night, going 6-for-13 from the floor and 5-of-5 from the stripe. The rookie committed just a single turnover in almost 30 minutes of action.

By the Numbers0 … games that Tristan Thompson and Alonzo Gee have missed this season.

QuotableCoach Byron Scott, when asked why his squad is struggling in the third quarter this season …

“Aside from the fact that we are just still young and dumb and don’t understand exactly what we have to do in the third quarter; because it happens over and over and over. I am tired of us giving games away. That’s what we did tonight.”

Up Next – With one game down, the Cavaliers continue their West Coast junket on Sunday night in Los Angeles, where they’ll take on a struggling Lakers team looking to avenge a December loss at The Q. The following night, Cleveland visits Sacramento for maybe the final time. On Wednesday they face the Blazers and wrap up the roadie on Saturday night in Utah.