January 19, 2006

James free-throw miss hands Nuggets win over Cavaliers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Carmelo Anthony and Earl Boykins
bagged 17 points each to overshadow another big effort from
Cleveland's LeBron James in leading the Denver Nuggets to a
90-89 victory over the Cavaliers in Colorado on Wednesday.

Once again, James paced the Cavs with a game-high 24
points, 11 rebounds and nine assists but missed a pivotal free
throw with less than a second remaining to send the slumping
Cavaliers to their fifth consecutive defeat.

Kenyon Martin and Eduardo Najera contributed 16 points
apiece to the Denver total as the Nuggets picked up their third
straight win and seventh in nine outings.

Trailing 90-87 James was fouled sending him to the foul
line where he hit his first of two shots then purposefully
missed the second looking for the rebound.

James was fouled again sending him back to the foul line
with a chance to send the contest to overtime.

The Cavaliers all-star nailed his first shot but watched
his second clang off the rim, giving the Nuggets the victory.

The Nuggets took command early racing to a 28-14 first
quarter lead but saw their advantage trimmed to 48-43 by the

After three quarters the Denver lead was reduced to 71-70
but the Nuggets managed to make the one-point advantage hold up
over the final 12 minutes.

In Atlanta, Chauncey Billups scored 23 points and Richard
Hamilton added 21 as the Detroit Pistons romped to 117-89 win
over the Hawks in a clash between the NBA's best and worst

Rasheed Wallace had 14 points and Ben Wallace contributed
four points and 18 rebounds to the Detroit cause as the Pistons
rolled to fifth straight win, improving to an NBA best 31-5.

At the other end of the spectrum, Al Harrington had 21
points and 10 rebounds for the struggling Hawks, who slumped to
their fifth loss in six games.

In other games, Vince Carter had 31 points and 10 assists
guiding the New Jersey Nets to a 101-90 win over the
Philadelphia 76ers, while Anthony Johnson had a career-high 27
points helping Indiana Pacers past the Charlotte Bobcats 98-92.

Steve Francis returned from his two-game team suspension to
score 12 points, grab seven rebounds and dish out seven assists
as the Orlando Magic eased past the Washington Wizards 106-98,
while Ben Gordon hit the game-winning jumper as time expired in
giving the Chicago Bulls 106-104 overtime victory over the New
York Knicks.

The Boston Celtics defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves
103-96; the New Orleans Hornets stopped the Memphis Grizzlies
87-79; the Dallas Mavericks routed the Houston Rockets 103-76
and the Portland Trail Blazers edged the Toronto Raptors 96-94.

(writing by Steve Keating in Toronto)