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Cavalier fans at the Civic Center were happy with the first quarter. Mike Brown was happy with the fourth quarter. Only the Bobcats were pleased with the two periods in the middle, and that’s where they made their move – sending the Wine and Gold to their first preseason defeat, a 92-74 loss on Tuesday night in Canton.
Cleveland ran out to a 27-17 lead after one period – shooting a gaudy 65 percent from the floor in the process. But the Bobcats proceeded to outscore the Wine and Gold in each of the final three quarters, holding Cleveland to just 15 points in the second and fourth quarters, 17 in the third.
“I thought where the game was lost, or what I was most disappointed in, was in the third quarter when our first unit was out there,” said Coach Mike Brown. “When our first unit was on the floor in the third quarter – offensively and defensively – we took a lot of short cuts. I’ve been pushing these guys and I’m going to keep pushing these guys, because they’re mentally tougher and physically tougher than what they think.”
The short-handed Cavaliers were without Carrick Felix, Jarrett Jack, Andrew Bynum, Sergey Karasev and Tyler Zeller. Anderson Varejao was given the night off and Alonzo Gee was only slated for 10 minutes of action on Tuesday.
Kyrie Irving and C.J. Miles were the only two Cavaliers to notch double-figures in the loss.
Irving netted nine of his 15 points in the third quarter and finished 5-of-13 from the floor. The All-Star guard added four assists, four boards, a pair of steals and a team-high two blocked shots.
Miles came off the bench to go 4-of-9 from the floor and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the stripe for his 15 points.
As a team, the Cavaliers cooled off considerably from the floor in the final three quarters and finished the game shooting just 36 percent. But that was only one factor in the loss. Charlotte took 21 more free throws than Cleveland, while the Wine and Gold committed 25 turnovers – 14 of those in the first half.
With the team undermanned in the middle, Henry Sims got his first start of the preseason and fared well – leading the Cavs with nine boards to go with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting.
“Just playing in general, it felt good to be out there,” said Sims. “We were all in a good rhythm in that first quarter. (Charlotte) came out with a different tone and we didn’t match that tone appropriately. They hit us and we didn’t respond correctly.”
Matthew Dellavedova led both teams with seven assists to go with three boards and a steal.
Charlotte had five players in double-figures, led by Kemba Walker’s 14 points. Gerald Henderson added 13 points and former Cavalier, Ramon Sessions, pitched in with 11.
The Cavaliers made their second straight trip to central Stark County and the Canton Civic Center – home of the squad’s D-League affiliate, Charge. The final attendance was 4,047 fans. A regular sell out in the arena is 3,942, but that figure was exceeded with standing room only admissions.
The Wine and Gold remain in Ohio for the next four contests. They welcome a pair of Central Division foes – Detroit and Indiana – at The Q on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. On Monday, Cleveland battles Philly in Columbus before traveling to Cincinnati to face the Wizards on Wednesday.