Cleveland 101, Charlotte 81

CLEVELAND, Feb. 2 (AP) -- They wore their standard shorts and tank tops. The Cleveland Cavaliers, though, might as well have been sporting pinstriped suits, palming Blackberrys and rushing to a meeting.

On Friday night, they were all business.

LeBron James scored 18 points, 13 after halftime, and Drew Gooden added 16 as Cleveland bounced back from a rough night in South Florida by beating the banged-up Charlotte Bobcats 101-81.

One night after blowing a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter and letting Miami's Dwyane Wade drop 24 points on them in the final period of a 92-89 loss, the Cavaliers built a double-digit lead by halftime and rolled.

"We had a very professional mind-set,'' James said. "We went out and took care of business.''

James, slowed by a sprained right big toe that might bother him all season, added 10 rebounds in 35 minutes. Larry Hughes had 13 points and Anderson Varejao matched a season high with 13 rebounds for Cleveland.

Gerald Wallace, coming off a franchise-record 42-point game on Wednesday against New York, led Charlotte with 16 points and rookie Adam Morrison had 14. The Bobcats were undermanned, playing without guard Brevin Knight (abdominal tear), center Primoz Brezec (back spasms) and forward Sean May (sore knee).

"We don't have any excuses,'' Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "I didn't recognize our team out there. Our goal was to try and hang in there early and take it down the stretch. We didn't get anything done and they got rolling.''

As has been the case all season, the Cavaliers seemed uninspired early on while playing against a sub-.500 team and they didn't seize control of the game until midway through the second period, when they pushed their lead to 17.

James seemed content to let his teammates score and didn't force the action while taking just five shots in the first half.

But beginning with an alley-oop dunk off a nice lob pass from center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, James began to impose his will on Charlotte and scored 13 of Cleveland's 21 points in a span of 8:26.

The Cavs allowed the Bobcats to creep within 61-52 before a 10-3 run capped by James' layup made it 71-55 entering the fourth.

James had a tough time shaking the nationally televised loss to the Heat, and was anxious to erase it as quickly as possible.

"That's what's great about this league,'' he said. "Last night I didn't like the way I played and our team suffered because of that. I took that loss very hard. Even today I still wore it on my face. I was disappointed. It was good to get right back out there.''

Cleveland extended its lead to 83-63 on a 3-pointer by Donyell Marshall, and James was able to rest his toe while cheering on his teammates from the bench during some extended garbage time.

"It felt good the last two nights,'' James said of his injury. "It was great to see that it didn't bother me at all coming off a back-to-back.''

James went just 3-for-8 on free throws and missed three in a span of 17.2 seconds late in Thursday's loss, continuing his season-long troubles from the line. He came in shooting 69 percent - six points below his career average - and had made only 14 of 27 free throws in his last three games.

Perhaps to change his luck or maybe to develop a better rhythm, James changed his pre-shot ritual and didn't kiss both wristbands - one with his mom's name on it, the other his girlfriend's - before each attempt.

He finished 4-of-8 from the line.

"I'm just trying to find a niche,'' he said. "I'm in Strugglesville right now. I know I can shoot free throws. It can be mental sometimes, and right now, it is. At practice, I don't miss.''

Notes: The NBA did not take further disciplinary action against James, who was called for a flagrant foul when he accidentally struck his good friend Wade in the neck while chasing a loose ball during the fourth quarter Thursday night. "It's just something that happened,'' Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "Everybody knows he wasn't trying to hurt Dwyane or anything.'' ... The Bobcats were also without F/C Othella Harrington, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Thursday and is expected to be out 3-to-6 weeks. ... Brezec, who has missed eight games with his injury, has been cleared to play but won't until he has a chance to work on his conditioning. "He's close,'' Bickerstaff said. ... Cavs G Damon Jones has an endorsement deal with Li-Ning, China's largest sports apparel maker. Jones has "I Am Global'' stitched on the back of his sneakers.

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