The Cavaliers Anderson Varejao gets tangled up with Carmelo Anthony while battling for a rebound last night in Cleveland.
JOHN KUNTZ / The Plain Dealer Enlarge
CLEVELAND - LeBron James just missed his first triple-double this season, but he got something even more rare: A win over good buddy Carmelo Anthony.
James scored 22 points, most of them coming with Anthony guarding him, but Cleveland's megastar was on the bench when Mo Williams and the Cavaliers finally put away the Denver Nuggets and won their sixth straight, 110-99 last night.
Williams scored a season-high 24 points and hit a crucial 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, a shot that put the Cavs ahead by 12 and sent James racing onto the floor in celebration.
James had lost his last five games against Anthony, whom he has known since high school, and is now just 3-8 against his U.S. Olympic teammate since they broke into the league together in 2003. James added 11 assists and eight rebounds as the Cavs beat the Nuggets for the first time since Dec. 15, 2005.
Daniel Gibson snapped out of a shooting slump and added 15 points for the Cavaliers, who held the Nuggets to 18 points in the fourth and 38 in the second half after giving up 61 in the first half.
The Nuggets lost for the first time in four games since acquiring Chauncey Billups in the blockbuster trade that sent Allen Iverson to Detroit.
Billups scored a season-high 26 points - 18 in the first half - Anthony had 18 and Kenyon Martin 12 with 10 rebounds for Denver. Martin, who had missed the previous two games with a sprained wrist, was ejected with 55 seconds left after he was called for a flagrant-2 foul for slamming his shoulder into Cleveland forward Anderson Varejao.
Before leaving the floor, Martin screamed obscenities at referee Joey Crawford before he was grabbed by Nuggets coach George Karl and escorted off.
With the Cavaliers leading 94-85, James was replaced with 8:23 remaining. Denver hit a pair of 3-pointers to pull within 98-91, but Williams hit a jumper and then dropped a 3-pointer with 5:53 to give Cleveland a 103-91 lead.