Bobcats 110, Cavaliers 93

LeBron James watched a group of reporters converge on Antawn

Jamison in the locker room and yelled to his new teammate.

“Don’t worry about that,” a smiling James said, mixing in a

few expletives. “You’re home. They still love you.”

Jamison burst out laughing. What else could he do? Jamison had

just gone 0 for 12 from the field in his debut with Cleveland in

his hometown Friday night in the Cavaliers’ 110-93 loss to their

surprising nemesis, the Charlotte Bobcats.

“It was just one of those nights,” Jamison said before turning

more serious. “It won’t happen again. I promise you that.”

Two days after Cleveland acquired what it believes may be the

key piece to winning a championship, Jamison had five shots blocked

and threw up two airballs. The Cavaliers couldn’t defend, either,

and their 13-game winning streak at the All-Star break has suddenly

turned into a two-game losing streak.

This new James-Jamison-Shaquille O’Neal front line isn’t

dominating just yet.

“I told him, ‘I don’t care how many shots you miss, we’re going

to continue to give you the ball,”’ James said. “’Those are shots

we need you to make and we know you can make them.”’

Stephen Jackson and the Bobcats had no trouble on offense,

shooting 55 percent and looking far more cohesive a day after they

made two trades.

Jackson scored 29 points, Tyrus Thomas grabbed 12 rebounds in

his Charlotte debut, and three days after losing to the NBA-worst

New Jersey Nets for the second time, the Bobcats won their third

straight game against the league-leading Cavaliers in a possible

first-round playoff preview.

“We didn’t show any intensity, offensively or defensively, and

they’re just a tough team for us to cover in this regular season

thus far, four games,” James said. “They’ve played well against

us. They have our number this year.”

James had 22 points and nine assists for Cleveland a night after

being the first player in NBA history with at least 43 points, 13

rebounds, 15 assists, two steals and four blocks.

Jamison didn’t play in that loss to Denver, and coach Mike Brown

announced before the game that he’d at least temporarily come off

the bench. J.J. Hickson kept his starting job at power forward, and

Jamison checked in with 5:09 left in the first quarter.

Looking out of sync, a step slow and way off with his shot,

Jamison was 0 for 8 with four of his shots blocked in the first

half while his parents watched from the stands a few miles from

where he went to high school. Jamison’s 3-point attempt at the

buzzer to end the first half was an airball.

“I just couldn’t really get into a rhythm,” he said.

The Bobcats pulled away from a halftime tie in the third

quarter. Thomas, picked up from Chicago a day earlier, got a crash

course on the plays a few hours before the game, but said he “kind

of forgot all of them.”

He depended on hustle, getting a thunderous dunk and blocking

Anderson Varejao in a 17-4 run to end the third quarter to give

Charlotte an 82-68 lead.

“It was like, ‘Joe you go to the fire hydrant and turn left,”’

Bobcats coach Larry Brown said of the playcalling.

Added Thomas, who had nine points on 3 of 9 shooting: “Coach

Brown made it a lot easier for me when he told me to just go play

and have fun and not worry about anything else but playing

hard.”

Boris Diaw had 18 points and nine assists, Gerald Wallace had 17

points and eight rebounds and Charlotte moved a game above

.500.

Delonte West score 13 points for Cleveland. Mo Williams added 12

in his return to the starting lineup after being out with a

shoulder injury, but he had only one assist. O’Neal had 10 points

and seven rebounds.

Jackson made sure Cleveland wouldn’t come back with strong

drives to the basket. His three-point play with 5:16 left put

Charlotte ahead 100-85 and marked the fourth time in five games

Cleveland had allowed 100 points or more.

The only drama late was whether Jamison would go scoreless.

After Mike Brown had pulled James and O’Neal, Jamison hit two free

throws with 41 seconds left for his only points.

“I know these guys aren’t going to let me forget about it, but

other than that it’s behind me,” Jamison said. “Just getting

ready for Orlando on Sunday.”

NOTES: Bobcats owner Bob Johnson sat courtside, but continued to

avoid reporters. NBA commissioner David Stern said last week he

expected the team to be sold in 60 days, perhaps to co-owner

Michael Jordan, who wasn’t courtside. … Bobcats C Tyson Chandler

(ankle) didn’t dress. … Theo Ratliff grabbed five rebounds in his

Charlotte debut. … Cavaliers G Sebastian Telfair, acquired in the

Jamison deal, didn’t make the trip. Mike Brown said he’s “weeks”

away from returning from a groin injury.