Final Dime: Bobcats 101, Cavaliers 92
Manny Harris got his first career start on Wednesday night in Charlotte.
The end results were painfully similar and, despite a furious fourth-quarter rally, the Wine and Gold dropped their 15th game in the last 16 outings – falling to Charlotte, 101-92, on Wednesday night on Tobacco Road.
Playing without Mo Williams, nursing a hip injury suffered on Tuesday night, Cleveland got off to a slow start – trailing by 13 points after one quarter. The Bobcats extended their lead to 19 in the second half before Ramon Sessions speared an 18-5 run that got the Cavalier to within four – 94-90 – with just under two minutes to play.
But Stephen Jackson canned three of his game-high 38 points on the very next possession to put the game on ice.
Without Williams in the Cavs starting backcourt, Coach Byron Scott went with rookie Manny Harris. Then, midway through the third, Daniel Gibson went down with a left thigh contusion and didn’t return. Although the Cavaliers got solid performances from Harris and (especially) Sessions off the bench, the Bobcats starting backcourt outscored Cleveland’s 66-19.
"Throughout the course of the season, guys are going to get hurt and miss games; that’s when other guys have got to step up," said Antawn Jamison. "I think Ramon (Sessions) did a great job as far as stepping up and filling in the void. But you definitely miss a guy like Mo Williams out there."
Sessions led the Cavaliers with 22 points on Wednesday, going 6-for-13 from the floor with five boards, four assists and one massive right-handed dunk midway through the fourth quarter – slicing through Charlotte’s defense to crush home his 17th and 18th points of the night.
Jamison followed up with 18 points, going 8-of-16 from the floor. J.J. Hickson had a strong outing, adding 12 points and six boards in 23 minutes off Byron Scott’s bench.
"It's another tough loss," said Coach Scott. "Our guys are playing as hard as they can. We don’t have a lot of room for errors and our margin is really slim. When you are down 15-16 points, it’s going to be an uphill battle."
Like the Magic the night before, the Bobcats shot well from beyond the arc, going 9-for-19. The Cavaliers shot just 18 percent from long distance on Wednesday.
The Cavaliers get a couple days off before traveling to Chicago to face the Central Division-leading Bulls on New Year’s Day.
2. Mo Williams – who had the best assist month of his career at 8.6 helpers per game – missed Wednesday night’s game with a hip flexor that he suffered in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s loss at The Q.
3. New Bobcats coach Paul Silas faced the Cavaliers for the first time since being let go back in March, 2005. The former head man of the Charlotte Hornets, Silas hired as the interim coach on Dec. 22 after Larry Brown stepped down, has already led Charlotte to back-to-back wins. Silas went 69-77 in his stint with the Wine and Gold.
4. No player in the NBA made more three-pointers – 33 – in the month of December than Daniel Gibson.
5. With Mo on the mend, rookie Manny Harris got his first career start. The former Wolverine logged 25 minutes, finishing with eight points, two boards, two assists and a pair of steals.
6. Forward Alonzo Gee, signed this week by the Cavaliers, got his first playing time in the Wine and Gold on Wednesday night – finishing with three points and an impressive nine boards in 27 minutes of action.
"I thought (Gee) did well," praised Coach Scott. "He defended and took the challenge well. He rebounded the ball extremely well for us ... We’ll bring him in tomorrow to work on a few things and get him familiar with the system. I was very impressed with how hard he played."
7. Anderson Varejao, playing some of the best ball of his career, finished with double-digit boards for the eighth time in the last 13 games. In the month of December, the Wild Thing averaged 9.9 points and 10.4 boards per contest.
8. If Coach Silas was looking to add toughness to his staff, he did with the recent hire of Cleveland native and John Hay HS grad, Charles Oakley – who’s making his assistant coaching debut with Charlotte.
9. Charlotte native and Tarheel legend, Antawn Jamison, was playing before friends and family and had a much better game than his Cavaliers debut last year, when he went 0-for-12 against his hometown Bobcats. Jamison tossed in a 70-foot heave at the 1st quarter buzzer that didn’t count.
10. For the first time in a week, Jamison didn’t notch 20-plus points (barely). With 18 on Wednesday, Jamison is averaging 21.5 ppg over his last four contests.
Joe Gabriele is the official beat writer for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Cavs.com. You can follow Joe and send him your questions on Twitter at @CavsJoeG.