LeBron, Irving power Cavaliers past Nuggets, 125-109
CLEVELAND (AP) -- LeBron James and Kyrie Irving each scored 27 points and combined for three 3-pointers in Cleveland's long-range barrage in the third quarter that sent the Cavaliers to a 125-109 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.
James added 12 assists in 32 minutes as the defending NBA champions won for the fifth time in six February games after going 7-8 in January.
Back from a four-game road trip, the Cavs didn't find their range until after halftime, when they opened the third with an 18-0 run to take control.
Irving drained two 3s on consecutive possessions, Kevin Love hit two more and James dropped another in a span of 2:43 as Cleveland pulled away and improved to 23-5 at Quicken Loans Arena.
Nikola Jokic had 27 points and 13 rebounds for the Nuggets, who played their third game in four nights and didn't have the legs to mount a serious comeback after falling behind by 22 in the third.
Jokic scored a career-high 40 in a win over the Knicks on Friday.
The Cavs only led 59-55 at halftime and didn't exactly dazzle defensively in the first 24 minutes.
But Irving opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer and Cleveland was on its way, knocking down 6 of 9 from behind the arc. Everything fell for Cleveland during the 18-0 spurt as James even tossed in a shot that was supposed to be a lob to Tristan Thompson.
James, Irving and Love combined for 27 of Cleveland's 33 points in the third.
Derrick Williams, who signed a 10-day contract with the Cavs earlier this week, made his home debut at the start of the second quarter. He took the floor with James, Channing Frye, Kyle Korver and Richard Jefferson, all of them taller than 6-foot-7.
The 25-year-old played all 12 minutes and contributed a 3-pointer and powerful dunk.
Nuggets: Forwards Kenneth Faried (sprained right ankle) and Danilo Gallinari (strained left groin) may not return until after the All-Star break. Faried has missed two games since being injured Wednesday, while Gallinari has missed six and hasn't played since Feb. 1. ... Coach Mike Malone spent five seasons as an assistant with Cleveland. "We had great success, the best record in the NBA twice," he said. "Went to the Finals. I was very fortunate to work for a head coach in Mike Brown that allowed me to coach and gave me a voice. Because of that opportunity and the success we had, because of a guy like LeBron, it allowed me to be seen in a different light among GMs and owners. It was a huge factor in me becoming a head coach." ... Malone has one of the league's youngest teams with nine players 25 and under, and five 21 and under.
Cavaliers: Thompson added 13 points and 13 rebounds. ... James passed Brad Daugherty (5,227) for the second-most rebounds in club history. Zydrunas Ilgauskas (5,904) is first. ... G Iman Shumpert missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle. ... Coach Tyronn Lue has been impressed with Williams, who scored 12 points in his debut with Cleveland on Thursday in Oklahoma City. Williams gives the Cavs depth, athleticism and some needed defensive intensity. Cleveland is Williams' sixth NBA stop, and the 25-year-old said he's grateful to be playing for a winning team. ... Korver has made 12 of his last 14 3-pointers.
Nuggets: Complete a tough stretch by hosting Golden State on Monday.
Cavaliers: At Minnesota on Tuesday. Cleveland has won five straight over the Timberwolves.