NBA roundup: Nuggets 120, Wizards 109
The NBA roundup …
WASHINGTON ó Each day brings a new story about Carmelo Anthony. Will he go to New Jersey, New York or maybe even stay in Denver? Itís kind of funny, but amid all the trade talk, Anthonyís Nuggets are playing extremely well.
On Tuesday night, Anthony scored 23 points, Nene and Al Harrington each scored 21 and Denver started a five-game road trip with a 120-109 win over the Washington Wizards.
Anthony shot just 8 for 20, but six Nuggets scored in double figures. Arron Afflalo had 18 points, Ty Lawson added 17 and Chauncey Billups finished with 15.
Mavericks 112, Clippers 105
DALLAS ó Jason Terry scored a season-high 28 points and J.J. Barea added 25, lifting the Dallas Mavericks to a 112-105 victory over the suddenly Eric Gordon-less Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.
The performance by the reserve guards helped Dallas erase an early 15-point deficit. The Mavs turned things around with a 23-6 spurt in the third quarter, then a 14-0 run in the fourth quarter. They wound up with their most points of the season, and their most bench points of the season.
Celtics 112, Cavaliers 95
BOSTON ó Kendrick Perkins spent the last seven months coming back from a knee injury, and on the day he was set to return to the floor he showed up in the trainerís office with a sore neck.
He was so excited he couldnít sleep.
Playing for the first time since injuring his knee in Game 6 of the NBA finals, Perkins had seven points and six rebounds in 16 minutes as the Boston Celtics beat Cleveland 112-95 on Tuesday night, sending the Cavaliers to their 18th straight loss.
Paul Pierce scored all 24 of his points in the first half, and Ray Allen added 18 to help the Celtics bounce back from a loss to the struggling Washington Wizards.
It was the Cavsí first time back in Boston since losing Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals ó the second time in three years the Celtics knocked them out of the playoffs. This time, it ended the LeBron James era in Cleveland; he stripped out of his Cavaliers jersey before he got to the locker room, then signed with the Miami Heat as a free agent.
Things have not gone well for the Cavaliers in their first season without the two-time NBA MVP. They have gone from the best record in the NBA to the worst, losing 27 of their last 28 games since Thanksgiving weekend.
ěI donít care about all that,î Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. ěWeíll have a breakthrough. Iím not looking at the number of losses and things like that. Iím looking at it game-by-game and seeing if weíre improving on both ends of the floor.î
J.J. Hickson had 12 points and 17 rebounds for Cleveland, which needs a win against Denver on Friday to avoid tying the franchiseís single-season record for consecutive losses. The Cavs lost their last 19 games in 1981-82, then their first five in ë82-83 for an NBA-record 24 losses in a row.
ěItís human nature to think about how many weíve lost in a row, and whatever record weíve set. Losing is tough, in general,î forward Antawn Jamison said. ěTo be where weíre at ó one of the worst records in the league right now ó thatís tough. Weíve just got to worry about trying to find a way to fix it. Thatís about the only thing you can do.î
Rajon Rondo had 11 points and 10 assists, Kevin Garnett scored 10 points and Glen ěBig Babyî Davis and Nate Robinson each scored 11 for Boston.
Pierce scored 17 points in the first quarter to help the Celtics open an eight-point lead. They led by 22 after two quarters and still led 78-59 midway through the third when coach Doc Rivers emptied his bench.
Perkins received a standing ovation when he entered the game with 8:02 left in the first quarter, with his teammates joining in and Robinson waving a towel to encourage the fans. Perkins scored on a layup less than a minute later, drawing another big cheer, and the fans again stood when he left the game for good with about 10 minutes remaining.
ěThereís people in the crowd that work hard every day, blue-collar, and Perk identifies with all those people. If you are a guy that works 9-to-5, youíve got to love Perk because thatís who he is,î Rivers said, noting Perkins also got an ovation from his teammates before the game.
ěI kind of welcomed him back to the team. You could see it. They were clapping; they were really excited. And they saw how hard he worked.î
Perkins was limited to 16 minutes ó by his conditioning, not by the knee he injured in the finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. Without him, the Celtics lost 83-79 in Game 7 to miss a chance at their second title in three years and an unprecedented 18th in all.
NOTES: Cleveland radio announcer Joe Tait was released from the Cleveland Clinic on Tuesday afternoon and transferred to a rehabilitation center after undergoing heart surgery recently. … Hickson also had a career-high five assists and matched his career-high with four blocked shots. .. Pierce claimed to ětweakî his right ankle at the end of the game, but Rivers said he thought Pierce was trying to get out of practice. … Of Bostonís regulars, only Rondo played in the fourth quarter.
The Associated Press
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