Cavs: Daniel Gibson, Shannon Brown, Sasha Pavlovic, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas Bobcats: Raymond Felton, Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace, Primoz Brezec, Emeka Okafor
Officials Jim Clark, Courtney Kirkland, Eric Lewis
--Larry Hughes will be back tonight after missing 11 games with a deep bone bruise in his leg. And he's promised big things now that he's no longer going to be playing point guard. More on that story in tomorrow's paper/online edition. --Anderson Varejao is not with the team, he's in Canada getting his visa. LeBron James is also out again. --This has the makings of a classic, folks. Bobcats and their seven-game losing streak vs. the Cavs and their five-game skid. Boy, and when you look at the starting lineups you have to give the edge to Charlotte. --The Bobcats average just 91 points a game, they are not good foul shooters, and they are not a good rebounders. Considering the Cavs can't score right now, this would seem to be an opponent they'd have a chance against, we'll see. --The Cavs had their first full-scale practice in two weeks on Friday, we'll see if Mike Brown was able to fix the offense that ignores Zydrunas Ilgauskas. --Gerald Wallace is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated players in the league. He's a good defender who gets steals and bodies up guys like LeBron well. He also can get to the hoop, even though he settles for the jumper, which he's not good at, too often. --By the way, nobody here in Charlotte can figure out what the Bobcats got out of giving Anderson Varejao that offer sheet, either.
Halftime -- Cavs 51, Bobcats 51 --Cavs have survived the Bobcats shooting 54 percent -- mostly from drives and easy post scoring -- and giving up 15 points off 11 turnovers. If they clean up either of these areas, they have an excellent chance in the second half. --Larry Hughes has shown excellent energy and good legs on his way to 12 points. He's playing off the ball and attacking when he can. Look, it's not All-Star production but it is better than taking spot-up jumpers...so far. --Cavs found some success on offense late in the half running a side pick-and-roll with Daniel Gibson and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The Bobcats are really camping down on Z, using double teams and fronting him. Still, getting him involved makes a major difference. He's 3-of-3 for seven points. --Once again, the Cavs are not rebounding all that well. I can understand without LeBron that it changes offensive rebound chances, but the Bobcats have eight second-chance points. --If you missed the highlight of Shannon Brown's dunk with a minute left in the half, find it somewhere. --The Bobcats are about the fifth team that I've seen that uses that Kanye West Stronger song during their intros. That includes the Cavs. C'mon NBA, how about some original thinking. In general, NBA intros have become very, very lame and that includes the Q, where this year's version is below their previous standard. Here's what happens in every arena: There's a bunch of highlights where the crowd just watches and doesn't cheer spliced in with players in boring setup shots clowning around or looking mean, then there's some smoke or fireworks and they announce the names with piped in crowd noise. Not that I could do it better, I'm just saying all of them have gotten boring.
Postgame -- Bobcats 96, Cavs 93 Stars Gerald Wallace, 22 points, seven rebounds, four steals, five blocks Raymond Felton, 15 points, 11-of-12 at the line in the fourth Larry Hughes, 22 points Ira Newble, 14 points, five rebounds
--LeBron was the first guy out of the locker room going to the bus, within minutes after the game ended and I don't blame him. Not having him was not an excuse tonight. Personnel was not an excuse tonight. The Cavs just plain kicked it away. --Daniel Gibson missing a free throw with 6.6 seconds left that could've tied it obviously was big. You'd like the team's best free-throw shooter to make clutch shots. But that did not decide the game, the Cavs turning the ball over 27 times including three straight times inside two minutes decided it. Sometimes it was Wallace or Jason Richardson making a play, but so many of them were unforced or the product of a terrible decision. --I know he made some offensive plays, but I just don't agree with having Shannon Brown on the floor in the stretch run. He just can't take care of the ball and tonight, neither could Gibson. You have to have a safer ballhandler in there, a guy like Eric Snow or even Damon Jones. Those two combined to play 22 minutes with no turnovers, by the way. --Also, I don't understand why Mike Brown took Newble, Devin Brown and Snow off the court in the fourth. They were playing great defense. Things turned around three minutes into the second half when he pulled Sasha Pavlovic for Snow, who changed the defensive tone. The Cavs got the lead back. --The Bobcats were the second worst free-throw shooting team in the league and they go 14-of-14 in the final minute. So I guess they deserved it, but they turned the ball over 12 times in the second half, shot 31 percent in the second half, and made some really mindless foul mistakes down the stretch. Both of these teams looked very bad in my opinion. --Drew Gooden and Zydrunas Ilgauskas combined for 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting. They have cooled off and not having LeBron is really hurting them. The open shots just aren't there. --Hughes was just 6-of-17 shooting and took some bad jumpers, but he attacked the basket and got to the foul line nine times. He made mistakes, but this was his best game of the season and he hasn't played in three and a half weeks. There's something to be said for that. He will be playing the off-guard from now on, we'll see if this becomes normal. --Wallace had six turnovers and made a stupid foul on Gibson with six seconds left, but otherwise he had a great game. His block of Z with 1:54 left when the Cavs were ahead by a point was a massive play. He is an underrated player, folks, he's really good.
Quotes: Sam Vincent: "When you lose seven in a row, sometimes you make decisions that put you in a position to lose. I thought we did a great job of fighting through that and still coming out with a win."...Translation: We didn't really deserve to win but we did. Raymond Felton: "It was a big win for us."...I guess when you've lost seven straight, any win is big. Mike Brown: "The guys were a little nervous and skittish, but I've got Daniel Gibson, who is a second-year guy and Shannon Brown, who is a second-year guy on the floor."...Excellent point, coach. So why were they both on the floor at the end?