Cavaliers 104, Bobcats 101

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor


Associated Press

CLEVELAND - Anderson Varejao was all over the floor - and all over the arena.
Cleveland's frizzy-haired and frantic forward, who causes chaos over 94 feet, scored 16 points and added 10 rebounds and LeBron James scored 22, leading the Cavaliers to a 104-101 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.
The Cavaliers celebrated Varejao's crazy, highlighted hairdo by handing out free wigs to their fans, many of whom wore their bushy giveaways during the game to honor Cleveland's "Wild Thing."
"It's kind of scary, 18,000 Andys," James said. "I don't think I could come to the arena if we had wig night all the time."
Larry Hughes had 16 points and made a key steal and two free throws in the final minute, and Drew Gooden added 16 points as the Cavaliers improved to 10-2 at home and had their starting lineup back on the floor for the first time in 13 games.
Cleveland, which has had a problem of playing up or down to the level of its competition all season, let a 10-point lead slip to two in the fourth quarter before finally putting the game away in the final minute.
"We're a much better team than our record shows," Hughes said. "We've just got to prove it. We should have about four more wins. We know where we want to go, we've just got to figure out how to get there."
Rookie Adam Morrison led Charlotte with 16, Emeka Okafor had 14 and 11 rebounds and Brevin Knight added 14 assists for the Bobcats, who closed within 98-96 on Knight's jumper with 1:12 remaining.
But after Varejao missed from the outside, Hughes, in his third game back since missing 10 with a sprained ankle, stepped in front of a pass by Sean May and was fouled.
Hughes dropped both free throws to make it 100-96, and after Matt Carroll scored for Charlotte, James saved a wild pass by Hughes and fed Varejao underneath for a dunk to give the Cavs a 102-98 lead.
James, who added eight rebounds and seven assists, made two more free throws and Carroll closed the scoring by dropping a 3-pointer at the horn.
Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff felt one of his players had fouled Hughes before he could pass the ball to James.
"I don't know what the deal was," Bickerstaff said. "We tried to foul. We had him (Hughes) locked up over in the corner. There were three guys, two slapping at him. But I guess we didn't hit them hard enough."
With the season now more than one quarter of the way over, the Cavaliers are still searching for consistency. Before Wednesday, they hadn't had both Gooden and Hughes healthy since Nov. 15. And they need an attitude other than a complacent one.
Their up-and-down play has been a troubling trend that has led to some losses to lesser-talented teams, including a 92-88 setback to the Bobcats (5-16) on Nov. 4.
Leading by 13 at half, the Cavs allowed the Bobcats easy baskets in a 15-5 run. Gerald Wallace's bucket got Charlotte within 70-69 before Cleveland closed the period with a 10-4 spurt to go up 80-73.
Varejao, who was active inside all night, then made two free throws and Jones knocked down a 3-pointer in the first minute of the fourth, giving Cleveland a 12-point lead.
But the Bobcats weren't done, and they reeled off eight consecutive points to make it 88-86 with 6:58 remaining.
"That's our identity. We don't quit," said forward Sean May, who finished with 13 rebounds. "We put on a good showing, but man, we'd like to have that one."
James didn't get his first field goal of the second half until there was 2:11 left, giving Cleveland a 98-91 lead.
Morrison, who came in shooting just 3-of-34 in his last four games, scored 11 points in the second quarter. His jumper brought Charlotte within 55-48, but the Cavaliers closed the half with a 6-0 spurt to lead 61-48 at the break.
Notes: The Cavs are 7-0 when they score at least 100 points. ... Gooden missed two games after injuring his groin while trying to outdunk James in warmups. Cavs coach Mike Brown doesn't plan to place any pregame restrictions on his players. "I don't know who's putting on a show and who's not," he said. "As long as they're ready when the buzzer sounds, I don't care what they do." ... The Bobcats turned over the WNBA's Charlotte Sting to the WNBA on Wednesday, saying they could no longer operate one of the league's original franchises. ... The Bobcats have lost four straight and six of seven. ... Cleveland has won eight of nine all-time vs. Charlotte.