CLEVELAND -- One NBA player lords over LeBron James.
Carmelo Anthony rules Cleveland's hoops King.
"I know he hates losing to me," Anthony said with a laugh.
Anthony, who got to rest in the fourth quarter, improved to 8-2 in his pro career against good friend James, who scored 30 points -- in three quarters -- but got little help from a Cleveland team missing four key players, including two starters.
Though shorthanded, the Cavs have been able to get by playing good defense and came in 16-5 since Dec. 25. But from the opening tip on they didn't do nearly enough to slow the Nuggets, who handed Cleveland its worst home loss since April 5, 2005.
Denver led by 11 points after one quarter, 18 at halftime and pushed its advantage to 26 by the end of the third. At the end of that period, James stormed off the court, took a seat at the far end of Cleveland's bench and didn't take part in coach Mike Brown's huddle before the fourth quarter began.
"It was definitely frustrating," James said. "We know we can play better. It was one game. That's something we can fix."
As a displeased James sat alone on the bench and stared straight ahead, Cavaliers guard Damon Jones let his teammates know that their performance was unacceptable by yelling at all of them.
"I just think something had to be said at that point," Jones said. "No big thing."
Although he was looking in James' direction, Jones said his comments were intended for everyone wearing white jerseys.
"In those situations you have to band together as a team. I wasn't singling anybody out," Jones said. "Everybody, including myself, we have to find ways to fight through situations like that."
James didn't play in the fourth quarter when the Cavs fell behind by 37 and played all their reserves.
Anthony, coming off a 49-point performance in a win against Washington, went 11-of-19 from the floor and added eight rebounds in 32 minutes. He, too, spent the fourth quarter on the sideline, savoring Denver's fifth straight win over Cleveland.
"It was one of the most complete games we've had," Anthony said. "We didn't come in here expecting a blowout, but that's what happened."
Iverson added 13 assists and Marcus Camby 17 rebounds for Denver, which shot 63 percent in the first quarter.
"We jumped on them from the beginning," Iverson said. "We took advantage of the shots they were missing. We were able to do everything right on both ends of the floor."
The Cavaliers were again a shell of themselves as injuries continued to plague the Eastern Conference champions.
Drew Gooden missed his third game in a row with a strained right groin and Daniel Gibson, the team's top long-range shooter, sat out his second straight because of a strained hamstring. On top of that, Cleveland didn't have forward Anderson Varejao (sprained ankle) or swingman Sasha Pavlovic (sprained foot).
Also, Jones went to the locker room in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle and center Zydrunas Ilgauskas was also forced to spend the final 12 minutes getting treatment for back spasms.
The Cavs, however, were hurting long before that.
Denver led 63-45 at halftime and quickly upped its lead to 23 after Iverson opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer and Kenyon Martin scored inside. James helped trim Denver's lead to 15, but Iverson and Anthony never relaxed and the Nuggets pushed their lead to 90-64 entering the fourth.
The Nuggets beat the Cavs 122-100 earlier this season.
"It's disappointing they whooped our behinds twice like this," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "I don't think we can look in the mirror and say we fought tonight."
Denver coach George Karl took his team's lopsided win in stride, knowing the Cavaliers weren't at full strength.
"They're so banged up and beat up," he said. "They couldn't make a shot and we had an easier game because we did some good things. It was one of those games where can go home and say we played, but they were shorthanded too."
|Allen Iverson drops 25 points as the Nuggets crush LeBron James and the Cavs. (Getty Images)|
|Denver (31-19) «||35||28||27||23||113|
|DEN:C. Anthony 27 Pts
DEN:M. Camby 17 Reb
DEN:A. Iverson 13 Ast
|CLE:L. James 30 Pts
CLE:Z. Ilgauskas 10 Reb
CLE:E. Snow 3 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|M. Camby, C||36||3-8||2-2||17||2||3||8|
|A. Iverson, SG||36||9-18||5-6||1||13||2||25|
|C. Anthony, SF||32||11-19||4-4||8||1||1||27|
|A. Carter, PG||31||1-8||2-2||3||8||1||4|
|K. Martin, PF||25||3-6||3-4||6||2||4||9|
|L. Kleiza, SF||28||4-7||2-2||2||1||1||12|
|E. Najera, PF||22||2-3||0-0||4||1||0||4|
|J. Smith, SG||20||6-14||0-0||5||1||3||18|
|Y. Diawara, SG||6||1-3||2-4||2||1||1||4|
|V. Wafer, SG||4||0-2||2-2||0||0||0||2|
|C. Atkins, PG||Did Not Play|
|S. Hunter, PF||Did Not Play|
|Nene, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|L. James, SF||33||11-23||6-6||5||3||1||30|
|L. Hughes, SG||31||6-15||1-2||5||1||2||14|
|Z. Ilgauskas, C||28||4-12||1-1||10||1||2||9|
|E. Snow, PG||26||0-5||1-2||1||3||1||1|
|I. Newble, SF||20||1-6||1-2||4||0||1||3|
|D. Brown, SG||24||2-10||5-8||5||3||2||9|
|D. Jones, PG||19||0-3||0-0||2||3||2||0|
|D. Marshall, PF||17||2-7||0-0||4||0||1||4|
|D. Jones, PF||17||1-1||0-0||4||1||2||2|
|C. Simmons, SF||15||1-1||0-0||4||0||3||2|
|S. Brown, PG||12||4-10||0-1||3||0||3||9|
|D. Gooden, PF||Did Not Play|
|A. Varejao, C||Did Not Play|
|S. Pavlovic, SG||Did Not Play|
|D. Gibson, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|