CLEVELAND -- The Denver Nuggets came out running and gunning. They hardly stopped, and they hardly missed.
Carmelo Anthony scored 27 points, Nene had 21 and Allen Iverson 18 as the Nuggets had their best shooting night of the season, finishing off Cleveland with a late flurry in a 105-93 win over the Cavaliers on Sunday night.
Anthony, the league's second-leading scorer, bounced back from a season-low 10-point game in a loss on Friday at Toronto by shooting 12-of-19 from the field. He hit two jumpers and assisted on a basket by Nene as the Nuggets, who shot a season-best 60 percent, outscored Cleveland 8-0 over the final 3:02.
"We wanted to set the pace early, and we did," Anthony said.
With the win, Anthony improved to 5-2 in career NBA matchups with LeBron James, his close friend and U.S. Olympic teammate.
James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 18 points apiece for the Cavs, who played sloppily down the stretch and missed their final six shots as they tried to keep up with the fastbreaking Nuggets.
"They came into our building and scored 32 fastbreak points," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "It seems like when we play these types of teams - Phoenix, Dallas, to a certain degree Washington, these guys want to open it up and get into a transition game. We kind of do the same and we run out of gas."
Cleveland, however, was still within 97-93 when Anthony hit a layup, and following a miss by James, he dropped a 20-footer to put the Nuggets ahead by 8. Daniel Gibson then missed for the Cavs and Anthony streaked down the right side before dropping a pass into the lane for Nene, whose layin made it 103-93.
James turned it over on Cleveland's next trip and Iverson, who added 12 assists, put it away by dropping a floater in the lane.
"After the last game, as men we had to come out and show our pride," Iverson said.
The Cavaliers take pride in their defense. They came in allowing an average of 87 points in their past seven home games and had held the shorthanded New York Knicks to a season-low 68 points on Thursday.
The Nuggets, though, topped that number with 5:45 left in the third on a jumper by Steve Blake, and there were times when Denver players were left unguarded.
"This was definitely not one of our best defensive efforts," James said, "and we paid for it."
Ilgauskas scored eight points in the first 4:47 of the fourth, but beginning with two free throws from Anthony, the Nuggets outscored Cleveland 17-6 over the last 6:36 to disappoint an energized crowd that included billionaire Warren Buffett -- a guest of James.
Anthony didn't need long to put his worst game of the season behind him, scoring 13 points in the first quarter on 6-of-9 shooting.
But it was Kleiza, left alone by the Cavaliers, who did most of Denver's damage in the second quarter. He scored 12 in the first 5:39, sinking consecutive 3s on his first two shots, as the Nuggets pushed the ball up the floor as if they were facing a Western Conference opponent.
"I didn't really want to run a lot of plays," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "I just wanted to play fast. We got wild cards from our bench (Kleiza and Smith), giving us a big lift."
Denver shot a blistering 60 percent from the floor in the first half, but only led 55-53 at the break.
|Denver's Carmelo Anthony improves his career mark to 5-2 against LeBron James. (Getty Images)|
|Denver (35-33) «||23||32||26||24||105|
|DEN:C. Anthony 27 Pts
DEN:Nene 9 Reb
DEN:A. Iverson 12 Ast
|CLE:Z. Ilgauskas 18 Pts
CLE:D. Gooden 10 Reb
CLE:L. James 8 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|A. Iverson, PG||46||7-13||4-6||4||12||1||18|
|C. Anthony, SF||39||12-19||3-6||5||2||4||27|
|M. Camby, C||35||1-3||2-2||6||6||2||4|
|S. Blake, PG||31||3-6||1-2||3||4||1||7|
|L. Kleiza, SF||26||6-10||0-0||1||1||1||14|
|J. Smith, SG||24||5-9||0-0||5||4||0||13|
|R. Evans, PF||7||0-0||1-2||4||0||0||1|
|D. Johnson, SF||Did Not Play|
|K. Martin, PF||Did Not Play|
|E. Najera, PF||Did Not Play|
|J. Sampson, C||Did Not Play|
|Y. Diawara, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|L. Hughes, SG||41||7-15||3-4||5||2||1||17|
|L. James, SF||41||8-19||1-1||3||8||4||18|
|Z. Ilgauskas, C||33||8-16||2-2||9||3||3||18|
|S. Pavlovic, SF||29||4-11||0-0||3||4||1||9|
|D. Gooden, PF||27||6-11||0-0||10||3||1||12|
|A. Varejao, C||22||2-2||0-0||4||0||2||4|
|E. Snow, PG||17||3-6||0-0||1||4||3||6|
|D. Gibson, PG||14||1-4||0-0||2||0||1||3|
|I. Newble, SF||11||1-4||0-0||2||0||1||2|
|D. Marshall, PF||6||1-3||2-3||0||0||0||4|
|S. Pollard, C||Did Not Play|
|D. Jones, PG||Did Not Play|
|D. Wesley, SG||Did Not Play|
|D. Jones, PF||Did Not Play|
|S. Brown, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|