CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kemba Walker had 24 points and seven assists, and the Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-98 Wednesday to avoid finishing in the NBA cellar for a second consecutive season.
The Bobcats (21-61) finished one game ahead of the Orlando Magic, who lost their season finale to the Miami Heat.
Josh McRoberts added 20 points and eight rebounds as the Bobcats closed the season with three straight wins, matching a season high.
Gerald Henderson added 15 points.
Kyrie Irving had 24 points and 10 assists for the Cavaliers, who finished with the third-worst record in the league (24-58) after losing 16 of their last 18 games, including their last six.
With the win the Bobcats became the first team in NBA history to triple their win total from the previous season.
Charlotte finished last year’s lockout-shortened season 7-59 and its .106 winning percentage was the worst ever.
The Bobcats jumped all over the Cavaliers early, taking a 34-16 lead after shooting 72 percent from the field in the first quarter.
The Bobcats appeared ready to blow out the Cavaliers after extending the lead to 24 in the second quarter, but Irving brought Cleveland back.
Irving scored 16 points in the first half on 6-of-9 shooting and the Cavaliers finished the half on an 18-5 run to cut the Charlotte lead to six heading into the break.
Cleveland eventually took the lead with 9:30 left in the game when Dion Waiters scored on a driving layup for its only lead of the game at 77-76.
But Walker hit a long 3-pointer and Bismack Biyombo scored inside to ignite a 7-0 run giving the Bobcats a lead they’d never relinquish. Walker sealed the game with a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left to put the Bobcats up by five.
Cavaliers coach Byron Scott and Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap both face uncertain futures.
The Cavs are just 64-166 in three seasons under Scott following the departure of LeBron James. Scott said earlier in the day the season has been “frustrating” because the Cavaliers “never had a chance to see what we had as a whole with all of the injuries we had.”
As for his future, Scott said earlier in the day, “Yeah, I have a year on my contract, (so) unless they tell me otherwise I plan on being back.”
Dunlap helped the Bobcats to a major improvement record-wise over last season, but it’s unclear if he did enough to convince owner Michael Jordan he should return next season.
By finishing last in the league the Magic have the best chance — 25 percent — to land the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA lottery.
NOTES: McRoberts was a solid acquisition since being acquired from Orlando, entering the game averaging 10.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists in his previous 18 starts. … Gerald Henderson scored in double digits in his final 24 games this season. … Omri Casspi had a season-high nine rebounds.