CLEVELAND — Every word Byron Scott uttered was soaked with dejection.
As Cleveland's first-year coach analyzed yet another loss by the lowly Cavaliers, Scott was asked if he could identify one positive on another dreary night.
“Yeah,” he said. “It's over.”
Sadly for the Cavs, their losing streak isn't done.
Carmelo Anthony scored 33 points, Arron Afflalo added 23, and the Denver Nuggets avoided any embarrassment by beating Cleveland 117-103 Friday night, handing the pathetic Cavaliers their team record-tying 19th straight loss.
Still winless in 2011, the Cavs have also dropped 29 of 30 and are now just five losses away from breaking the NBA record of 23 consecutive defeats in one season, an inglorious mark shared by Vancouver (1995-96) and Denver (1997-98).
“Disappointing,” said Scott, who played for the expansion Grizzlies when they lost 23 straight. “We continue to spot teams 20-point leads and then we're fighting uphill all game long. We were on our heels the whole night. But I'm not going to throw my hands up. That's not me.”
Melo and the Nuggets showed little compassion for the Cavs, who cut a 23-point deficit down to six in the fourth but couldn't get any closer.
J.J. Hickson had 24 points and 14 rebounds for Cleveland, which lost its final 19 games in 1981-82 and its next five the following season to set the mark for the longest losing streak spanning two seasons.
Cleveland's current losing streak is the league's longest since Orlando dropped 19 in a row in 2003.
Although they've tasted victory just once since Nov. 27, the Cavs never stopped fighting. Down by 22 midway through the third quarter, they reeled off 10 straight points and closed the period with a 12-3 spurt to pull within 93-83.
The burst kept Cleveland's crowd from bolting early, and when Hickson scored with 6:13 left, the Cavs were within 101-95 and Quicken Loans Arena sounded like it did when LeBron James was still around.
But Anthony restored order. After resting to start the quarter, he returned and hit a quick jumper before Ty Lawson blazed down the lane for an easy layup to put the Nuggets ahead 108-99 with 4:22 to go.
The Cavs missed at the other end, and Chauncey Billups drained a long 3-pointer to make it 111-99 and kill Cleveland's comeback.
Anthony made 15 free throws — equaling the Cavs' total — and Lawson added 15 points as the Nuggets won their fourth in a row.
Antawn Jamison had 20 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland, which will likely go 0-for-January with upcoming games at Orlando Sunday and in Miami on Monday to close the month. The Cavs' best chance to end their losing streak will be next Wednesday at home against Indiana.
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