Cavaliers-Nuggets Preview

Despite being the subject of trade rumors, Carmelo Anthony is
doing his best to help the Denver Nuggets win games.

Anthony and the Nuggets look for a third straight win Saturday
night while trying to extend the Cleveland Cavaliers’ season-high
losing streak to 13 games.

As the focal point of a proposed three-team trade that would
send Anthony to New Jersey, the Denver star and his teammates are
trying not to let that potential deal become a constant
distraction.

Though the trade could be contingent on whether Anthony signs a
contract extension, so he doesn’t leave next summer and become the
headliner of the 2011 free agent class, it’s believed it could be
finalized as early as next week.

The Nuggets (22-16), meanwhile, have been a focused group of
late, beating Phoenix and Miami by an average of 31 points in
consecutive games following a three-game skid.

“We’re in a good place through a tough year,” Nuggets coach
George Karl said. “Hopefully, we can continue to play like we’re
playing right now.

“I still think there’s a window of what-if we’re all together,
what-if we become a really good team? Until that (doesn’t) exist,
I’ve got to keep the guys playing every game in that mentality of
get better, get smarter and do our jobs – and our job is to
win.”

After scoring 28 in a 132-98 win over Phoenix, Anthony had 21 in
Thursday’s 130-102 victory over a Heat team without an injured
LeBron James.

Though he hasn’t always received a favorable reception from the
home crowd of late, Anthony has averaged 24.5 points the last six
games while using basketball as a way to shut out his off-court
situation.

“(Taking the court), it’s therapeutic,” Anthony said. “I try to
stay strong for myself and I have to do what’s best for me. Keeping
a positive attitude for my teammates.”

After beating James’ new team, Anthony and the Nuggets have a
good chance to continue their recent success against his old
club.

Cleveland (8-31) has gone from the team with the best
regular-season record in 2009-10, to the one with the worst in less
than a year.

Mired in their longest skid since dropping 15 straight from Nov.
6-Dec. 2, 2002, the injury-riddled Cavaliers lost for the 22nd time
in 23 games, 121-99 at Utah on Friday.

“I think as a whole, we’ve got to do a better job of staying
focused for the full 48 minutes,” said center J.J. Hickson, who
had 21 points and 14 rebounds.

With center Anderson Varejao done for the season with a torn
ankle tendon and starting guard Daniel Gibson out a fourth straight
game with a sprained ankle, the Cavaliers played just eight but
managed to shoot 48.8 percent and remain competitive three nights
after a humiliating franchise-worst 112-57 loss to the Los Angeles
Lakers.

Antawn Jamison had 26 points with 11 rebounds as Cleveland lost
for the 18th straight time away from home – its longest skid since
dropping the final 21 road games of the 2002-03 season.

The Cavaliers have allowed 109.1 points per game during their
latest road losing streak.

Jamison has been one of the Cavaliers’ few bright spots,
averaging 23.8 points the last six games. He’s averaged 22.7 in his
last nine versus Denver.