Missed free throws + TOs = Road woe even without 'Melo: Nuggets 99, Cavaliers 97

Kirk LammersContributor IJanuary 9, 2010

Photo: AP

It may not have been the marquee matchup that ESPN had hoped for when televising this game, but the Nuggets and Cavaliers played each other incredibly tight, even with the Nuggets missing the NBA's leading scorer in Carmelo Anthony. The Nuggets used a fantastic 30-point first fueled by Kenyon Martin and Chauncey Billups along with key tough buckets from Aaron Afflalo and J.R. Smith to bookend their 15th victory at home in 18 tries. The Cavaliers have now lost in eight of their last 10 trips to Denver.

Melo out of commission: All-Star Nugget forward Carmelo Anthony missed his fourth straight game tonight with a knee bruise, and Denver was also without backup point Ty Lawson. However, the Nuggets did get back Chauncey Billups, Nene, and Chris "Birdman" Andersen, who were all listed on the injury report as well. Joey Graham started in Anthony's place.