CLEVELAND, Jan. 11 (Ticker) --
The expansion Charlotte Bobcats need a
player they can go to down the stretch. Someone like
James had clutch baskets at the end of regulation and overtime
as the Cleveland Cavaliers escaped with a 100-98 victory over
the Bobcats, their fourth straight win.
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James had 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as the
Cavaliers completed a sweep of the four-game season series and
improved to 14-3 at home. They may have been looking past the
Bobcats to a six-game road trip beginning Thursday.
"Sometimes you're not as amped to play teams that are not at the
same level as Phoenix and Minnesota," James admitted.
"You play a team three times and it's difficult to beat any team
four times," Cleveland coach Paul Silas said. "I don't think we
approached the game in the manner that (we)
Riding the floor leadership of former Cavalier Brevin Knight
who had 15 points and a league season-high 20 assists to equal
his career high, the Bobcats led by 12 points early in the
fourth quarter and 83-76 with less than four minutes to play
before James had a 3-pointer and driving layup to start a
Charlotte had just four points in the last four minutes on two
jumpers by Knight. On the final possession of regulation, he
found a wide-open Keith Bogans
, who missed a 12-footer.
"We should have been sitting on the bus (with the win)," said
Bogans, who scored 17 points. "It felt perfect from the point it
left my hand. It was on target, but it hit the back of the
After not leading in the fourth quarter, Cleveland never trailed
in overtime. A 20-foot fadeaway by James opened a 97-93 lead
with 57 seconds remaining, and the Cavaliers held on.
"It's a lot better to go out to the West Coast with this record
(21-12) rather than with a loss," Cavaliers center
said. "It was a huge win, a tough one, but I'm happy
James got some help from Ilgauskas, who had 22 points and 11
rebounds, and Drew Gooden
, who scored nine of his 17 points in
the final six minutes.
"I think we need to open up games like we did against the Knicks
(a 104-79 win Saturday)," Gooden said. "We were focused and
brought the intensity."
and Primoz Brezec
scored 18 points apiece for
Charlotte, which has lost eight of nine. In the final nine
minutes, they were the only Bobcats besides Knight to score.
"We obviously don't have a go-to guy," said Charlotte coach
Bernie Bickerstaff, whose team fell to 1-15 on the road. "I
thought Bogans had a nice shot (to win it). We had the ball in
Brevin's hands. We put ourselves in a position to win. That's
all I can ask."
At the end of regulation, the Cavaliers also had a chance to win
it - and lose it. After Gooden's layup forged an 87-87 tie
with 33 seconds left, Cleveland forced a turnover. But Jeff
McInnis missed a jumper before the miss by Bogans.
"I don't think we have one person to go to," Knight said.
"That's not our team. We try to get the ball to whoever has it
rolling. We look for matchups that are in our favor."
Knight's sharp passing fueled a 12-2 third-quarter surge that
gave the Bobcats a 71-61 lead. On consecutive possessions, he
set up a hammer dunk by Wallace with a lob and zipped a pass
between defenders to give Brezec a layup. A 20-footer by Bogans
gave Charlotte its largest lead at 78-66 early in the fourth
"That is the best game (in four) we played against Cleveland,"
Bickerstaff said. "Where they really hurt us was on the
"We played hard, but things didn't go our way," said Charlotte
rookie forward Emeka Okafor
, who after a string of 19 straight
double-doubles has just one in his last four.
Bickerstaff implied Okafor might be wearing down 31 games into
his first season.
"I think Emeka is having a difficult time right now," he said.
"It probably started the last time we played Cleveland, so I
don't know if I can just assess that the problem he is having
right now is all Cleveland."