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.