CHARLOTTE, N.C.: Al Jefferson had 28 points and the Cavs’ faint playoff hopes were dealt a crushing blow Friday with a 101-92 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Cavs went ahead 81-80 on a pair of free throws from Dion Waiters with 7:54 left, but Jefferson and Kemba Walker took over, combining to score 18 of the Bobcats’ final 21 points. The only basket from anyone else was a huge 3-pointer from Josh McRoberts, which extended the Bobcats’ lead to 91-85 with 3:38 left.
Luol Deng had 19 points and six rebounds, Dion Waiters had 19 points off the bench and Kyrie Irving had 13 points, six rebounds and five assists while battling foul trouble in the first half. Irving shot 2-for-8 in the fourth quarter, a recurring theme for the Cavs, who shot 48 percent through the first three quarters, then missed 14 of their first 18 shots in the fourth. They stopped attacking, the jump shots stopped falling and the Cavs lost valuable ground in a playoff race that is quickly running out of time.
The Cavs fell 5.5 games behind the Bobcats, who hold the seventh seed in the East. The Atlanta Hawks, the eighth seed, play at Golden State later Friday.
Jefferson shot 12-for-18 for the Bobcats and beat double teams consistently throughout the night, while Walker had 20 points and 14 assists, falling two shy of matching his career high.