Denver, CO – Danilo Gallinari poured in 23 points to go with seven rebounds as the Denver Nuggets downed the Cleveland Cavaliers, 98-91, at the Pepsi Center on Friday.
Kosta Koufos tallied a career-high with 21 points, Kenneth Faried had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Andre Iguodala posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, winners in four straight.
"It wasn't pretty, it was kind of ugly, but it's in the win column and we get to keep fighting for a couple more home games," Nuggets coach George Karl remarked.
Kyrie Irving finished with a game-high 28 points and also dished out seven assists and Dion Waiters donated 18 points off the bench for the Cavaliers, who have dropped three of their last four.
Tristan Thompson added 16 points in the setback.
The Nuggets trailed 76-71 entering the final frame but used a 16-9 push to take an 87-85 lead with six minutes left. The teams traded blows from there until a Ty Lawson layup put Denver up 91-89 with just under two minutes to go.
After forcing a Cavs miss, Gallinari delivered a dagger, drilling a deep 3- ball with 34.9 ticks showing to put the Nuggets up 94-89.
Irving's triple rimmed out and Cleveland was forced to foul Lawson, who buried the subsequent free throws and the Cavs couldn't get closer than 96-91 the rest of the way.
"We came out nonchalant in the third quarter, they made a push and that was the difference in the game," Irving admitted.
Cleveland raced out to a 30-21 lead after the first quarter and owned a 56-45 lead entering the break.
Denver fell behind 60-47 early in the third, but outscored the Cavs, 25-16, the rest of the way to go into the fourth down 76-71.
Denver outscored Cleveland, 58-42, in the paint ... Lawson scored 13 points and dished out eight assists ... Both teams struggled from behind the arc. The Nuggets were 4-for-16 from long range and the Cavs finished 5-for-24 from downtown ... Cleveland forced 22 turnovers.