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Cleveland Cavaliers cruise to victory over Denver Nuggets

An Nguyen Avatar
December 30, 2015

 

The score was not indicative of the game as the Cavaliers lead virtually the entire way and won it 93-87 over the Nuggets. Despite being overwhelmingly undermanned the Nuggets fought admirably, but eventually fell short due to a lack of firepower. Sloppy basketball, but much to be proud of in this loss.

THE RUNDOWN

First Quarter – Starters: Jameer Nelson, Gary Harris, Kostas PapanikolaouKenneth Faried, Joffrey Lauvergne

 

King Joffrey led the way for the Nuggets early, scoring their first three baskets. Lauvergne typically is solid but not flashy, but this up-and-under on Kevin Love had plenty of style:

Our old friend Timofey Mozgov checked in halfway through the first and immediately slammed down an alley-oop. It’s easy to miss Mozzy, but remember that rarely does a non-star player fetch two first round picks in the stingy NBA trade market.

Jokic checked in and eased away any lingering feelings about Mozgov as he finished a tough and-1 while showing off his soft touch:

End of first: Cavaliers up 26-21.

Second Quarter – Starters: Randy Foye, Will Barton, Kostas Papanikolaou, Darrell Arthur, Nikola Jokic

Jokic committed a few uncharacteristic turnovers when he didn’t get the benefit of the whistle, but continued to play hard and gave Nuggets fans hope for the future by going right at the Nuggets’ past:

LeBron James then took matters into his own hands. Kostas was simply outmatched as he got blown by easily for a dunk. Immediate timeout from Michael Malone. It made no difference as LeBron kept the momentum going by hitting back-to-back jumpers, scoring the last four Cavalier baskets.

Barton hit a big three with just five seconds left in an attempt to give the Nuggets their own momentum going into the locker room, but that was just enough time for Denver to give up a fastbreak basket on the other end.

End of second: Cavaliers up 53-42.

Third Quarter – Starters: Nelson, Harris, Papanikolaou, Faried, Lauvergne

The LeBron show continued as James scored six of the Cavaliers’ first eight points. The Nuggets had no answer for The King.

Jokic checked in with five minutes left in the quarter and David Blatt immediately inserted Mozgov into the lineup. Looks like the rookie is already getting respect around the league.

The Nuggets were playing well, but struggled to close the gap in scoring. Another old friend of the Nuggets, J.R. Smith started heating up and scored eight points in the quarter including a floater to end the third.

End of third: Cavaliers up 72-62

Fourth Quarter – Starters: Foye, Barton, Miller, Arthur, Jokic

The Nuggets continued to fight, but ultimately lacked the firepower to mount a comeback against the Cavaliers.

Malone employed the hack-a-Shaq (intentionally fouling a poor free throw shooter) on Tristan Thompson with the Nuggets still down by 11 with just three minutes left. David Blatt countered by substituting Thompson for Smith.

LeBron then read two Nuggets plays perfect for two monster fast-break dunks. Embarrassing.

Final: Cavaliers win 93-87.

WHERE/WHEN

Pepsi Center, Denver, CO | Dec. 29th | Regular Season Game 32 (12-20)

STAR OF THE GAME

In a game of few bright spots, Barton shined once again dropping a team-high 29 points 11-20 shooting (3-8 from three). Just a little over a month ago on Nov. 14th, Barton scored a career-high 26 points. Will the Thrill is for real people.

PLAYS OF THE GAME

Barton is a ONE-MAN FAST-BREAK!!

Arthur got hurt on a tough put-back, but still managed to get back for a VICIOUS block.

Harris hit a tough one-legged fadeaway a la Dirk Nowitzki.

BY THE NUMBERS

NBA.com
NBA.com

Bad shooting all over the board as the Nuggets shot just 41.6 percent from the field and an appalling 20.8 percent from deep. You’re not going to beat many teams like that and it’s becoming more and more apparent the Nuggets are lacking a true shot-maker in order to be able to compete against the league’s best.

LASTING IMPRESSION

The Nuggets continue sliding down the standings as they lose their third straight game. Decimated by injuries, they look towards the horizon as Jusuf Nurkic readies for his return soon. Danilo Gallinari and Emmanuel Mudiay are also getting closer and the Nuggets will need the reinforcements if they don’t want to continue piling up losses. Bright side is those losses will come into fruition in the form of a better draft pick.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Nuggets will fly to Portland tonight and prepare to face the Trail Blazers tomorrow night in the Rose Garden. Tip off is at 8:00 p.m. MT.

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