Anthony, Nuggets Hold Off Cavaliers
Denver 90, Cleveland 89
DENVER, Jan. 18 (Ticker) -- When the Cleveland Cavaliers needed a late score, they turned to LeBron James. Unfortunately, the superstar came up just short.
James nearly recorded a triple-double with 24 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, but missed a free throw with six-tenths of a second left as the Cavaliers remained winless on their road trip with a 90-89 loss to the Denver Nuggets.
"It was the perfect miss," James said. "I was able to catch it off the back of the rim and draw the foul."
With 0.6 seconds to go, James again made the first, but his second shot was off the mark. Alan Henderson, who scored a season-high 16 points, nearly tipped in the miss, but the ball rattled out of the cylinder at the buzzer, sending Cleveland its fifth straight loss.
"It just didn't go down," James said. "I shot it like any other, I just missed it. (I've) got to move on. Everything that happened tonight, I blame myself."
"When the free throw was in the air, I thought it was in," Henderson said. "It came off the rim and I got a hand on it. I really thought it was going in the basket, but it rimmed it. It looked good."
The Cavaliers fell to 0-4 on their six-game road trip. Two of those losses were by one point while another was by two.
"We can't go on a six-game road trip and lose three games by a point in the last seconds because we don't make free throws," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "We are careless with the ball and don't box out. We're playing too good defensively to let that kind of stuff bite us in the behind. We have to win this game and we didn't. We get paid to win games." "
"We've been in all these games in the fourth quarter, we just haven't been able to pull them off," James said. "We are getting better, especially with three of our main guys out of the lineup."
Denver struggled from the floor in the fourth quarter, missing 16 of its first 18 shots. Kenyon Martin, who was just 3-of-16 from the field, ended the drought with a short hook.
Earl Boykins, who scored 17 points off the bench, sank a 3-pointer that gave the Nuggets an 87-86 advantage with 33 seconds remaining. After James tied it by splitting a pair of free throws, Carmelo Anthony blew by Ira Newble for a thunderous dunk with 21 ticks remaining that gave the Nuggets the lead for good, 89-87.
"I'm proud of our team," said Anthony, who scored 17 points. "We fought through to the end tonight. I told LeBron to miss one for me when he went to the line. He gave me one. We won the game and that is all that matters."
Cleveland reserve Sasha Pavlovic missed a pair at the line with 11 seconds left, but the Cavaliers got the rebound. James was open for a go-ahead 3-pointer but passed to Pavlovic, who failed to get off a good shot.
"I let my team down tonight," James said. "I'm supposed to make plays down the stretch. I didn't do that tonight and we lost. We're not winning but we are putting ourselves in position to win. It is something we need to work on. When you are in a slump, these are (the) type of games you lose."
Eduardo Najera, who scored a season-high 16 points off the bench, had a chance to seal the victory at the line with 4.6 seconds remaining. However, he split his free throws to set up the late dramatics.