James, Cavaliers Extend Win Streak
Cleveland 101, Charlotte 97
CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 2 (Ticker) -- LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are rolling toward the postseason.
James had 35 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in his latest huge effort as the Cavaliers extended their winning streak to eight games with a 101-97 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
"We're in the playoffs and we're getting very close to locking up the fourth seed and we're just going to keep playing the basketball we've playing lately whether it's on the road or at home and try to come away with some wins," James said.
Coming off his sixth triple-double of the season in Saturday's win over Miami, James has scored at least 35 points in six consecutive contests.
"I'm just going out and playing my game," James said. "We're winning our type of ballgames. We're finding ways to win down the stretch and that's all that matters."
"LeBron James was two assists shy of another triple-double," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "That's phenomenal. He's shooting over 50 percent from the floor."
On Sunday, the 21-year-old phenom started with a flourish, scoring 15 points in the first quarter and 24 by the half. He made 13-of-24 shots and 7-of-9 free throws in 41 minutes while also battling foul trouble.
"It's impossible to limit him," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "He can go get the ball with rebounds and there is just a myriad of ways for him to get possessions and obviously they put the ball in his hands."
Despite James' big night, the feisty Bobcats were within 87-84 with 6:09 remaining after Gerald Wallace's basket.
"My confidence is that we have a chance to win, whether we are up or down," James said. "And that's the confidence that we're on right now. It can come in different ways; whether it's defensively or offensively."
Murray answered with a 3-pointer and baskets by Drew Gooden and Zydrunas Ilgauskas rebuilt the Cavs' advantage to 94-84 with 3:57 remaining.
"Different guys are stepping up each night," Murray said. "It shows how strong our team is. We've got a lot of different looks that can win games."
The Bobcats again rallied, reeling off the next eight points to close to 94-92 with 1:52 left on Wallace's three-point play.
After James made two free throws, the Bobcats had a chance to pull closer when Jumaine Jones was fouled while taking a 3-pointer. But Jones made just one of the attempts at the line with 73 seconds left.
"It was on us to make the plays," Bickerstaff said. "We didn't make the plays. Jumaine (Jones) was fouled and he missed two out of the three. It was there for us to get it done. Cleveland made the plays from the free-throw line and we didn't."
Wallace split a pair of free throws with 34 seconds left, pulling the Bobcats within 96-94. But they got no closer as James made three free throws seven seconds apart to all but seal things.
"Bernie still has his team playing hard," Brown said. "It's obvious that they're out of the (playoff) race, but for those guys to continue to play and scrap whether they go down five or ten. The one thing this team does is play extremely hard."
Rookie Raymond Felton scored 20 points, Jones 18 and Wallace 17 for the Bobcats (20-54), who fell to 0-7 all-time against the Cavs.
"Sometimes the basketball just doesn't fall into the basket," Felton said. "It was just one of those nights. It was frustrating, but at the same time if it ain't falling, it ain't falling and you can't do anything about it. Tonight was a game where we had a chance to win."
Cleveland closes out the season with six of its last nine contests on the road.
"It's a good experience for us to come out here and start playing in these rowdy environments," Murray said. "That's how it's going to be in the playoffs. It's better for us to see that and experience it."
The Cavaliers also received a bit of good news on Sunday with the announcement that Larry Hughes is expected to return to action Tuesday night at home against Philadelphia. The guard has missed the last 45 games after undergoing surgery to repair a right finger fracture.