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Nuggets, Cavaliers lead their series 3-0

CARMELO Anthony nailed a last-second 3-pointer to give the Denver Nuggets a 106-105 victory over the Dallas Mavericks yesterday and a 3-0 series lead that has been insurmountable in NBA playoff history.

Denver trailed 105-101 with 31 seconds left, but got a quick dunk from Anthony and forced Dirk Nowitzki to miss a 13-footer with about 8 seconds left. After a timeout, Anthony took an inbounds pass and Dallas' Antoine Wright tried to foul him - twice - since the Mavericks had a foul to give.

Anthony lost his dribble the first time, then bounced off the second bump to find himself wide open. He buried the 3 from right in front of the Mavericks bench, where everyone was going bonkers over the lack of a foul call. It was ironic considering there had been 61 fouls called to that point, keeping either team from ever getting into a flow for the entire game.

At the buzzer, the crowd fell silent, the Nuggets began to celebrate and the Mavericks began to gripe. Team owner Mark Cuban shoved a cameraman and several clusters of players appeared to be exchanging words with Denver players and staff. Cuban continued his tirade behind the scorer's table, his face reddening.

Chauncey Billups scored 32 points, including 16 in the third quarter, and Anthony finished with 31 as Denver took its first-ever 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven series. The Nuggets will go for the sweep tomorrow.

Nowitzki had 33 points and 16 rebounds.

Cavaliers 97, Hawks 82

At Atlanta, LeBron James scored 47 in his best game yet of the playoffs to lead Cleveland to the brink of its second straight postseason sweep.

Back home after two blowout losses in Cleveland, Atlanta put up its best fight of the series but it didn't matter. The Hawks find themselves just one defeat away from calling it a season, the Cavaliers pushing out to another 3-0 lead after breezing past Detroit in the opening round.

Cleveland set an NBA record with its seventh straight double-figure win to eclipse the mark set by the 2004 Indiana Pacers.

The Hawks were only down 47-46 at halftime, and they surged into the lead with a 13-0 run in the third quarter. But Zaza Pachulia foolishly got ejected for arguing a foul call - acting as though he might attack the officials - and Atlanta faded away.

Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 21 points.


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