CLEVELAND: The Cavaliers had multiple chances to close out Friday night’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats but never could, and eventually fell at home 86-80.
Entering the game, the Cavaliers were 3-0 at home this season. And they were 14-1 against the Bobcats at Quicken Loans Arena.
Early in the game, the Bobcats (5-4) looked like the Bobcats of old.
They struggled mightily in the first half, turning the ball over 13 times and shooting just 35 percent from the field in what was an ugly half of basketball.
But none of it mattered as the Cavs failed to hold onto a couple of sizable leads before finally losing the advantage altogether early in the fourth quarter.
Led by an Earl Clark scoring barrage (10 points, 4-for-4 shooting) in the third quarter, the Cavs built a 12-point lead over a team with a 7 percent winning percentage in Cleveland.
Then turnovers mounted (nine in the second half), the Bobcats’ Josh McRoberts made two 3-pointers and was fouled trying a third, and the Cavs’ double-digit lead was down to one (58-57) entering the fourth quarter.
Thirty seconds into the fourth quarter, it was gone, and gone for good.
Cavs coach Mike Brown wasn’t pleased with the intensity in that eight- to 10-minute stretch in which the Cavs’ game-long lead was erased.
“Charlotte got everything they wanted; they got into a rhythm, and from there it snowballed,” Brown said.
The Cavaliers (3-7) finished the game shooting just 40.5 percent from the field.
Point guard Kyrie Irving scored a team-high 18 points, including seven points early in the fourth quarter that kept the Cavs within striking distance. He also had a double-double, as he dished out 10 assists.
Irving played his first game with a clear mask after being diagnosed with a right nasal fracture Friday. He was still his aggressive self in the lane but spent many trips down the floor adjusting the mask as he went and turned the ball over six times.
Clark ended up with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and five rebounds. It’s the first time he’s reached double-figures as a Cavalier.
Tristan Thompson had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds but also missed a couple of easy dunks.
C.J. Miles received the start Friday night in place of Dion Waiters, who is still dealing with flulike symptoms. Miles had eight points.
Brown said before the game that rookie Sergey Karasev might get more minutes, but he was 0-for-3 shooting and after not challenging a layup, was taken out after nine minutes of action.
Five Bobcats reached double figures Friday night, led by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s 16 points and eight rebounds. McRoberts added 13 points, Kemba Walker and former Cavs player Ramon Sessions each had 12 and Jeffery Taylor finished with 11, many of them coming on a few thunderous dunks.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.