Cavaliers 122, Bobcats 95

Kyrie Irving spent the fourth quarter on the bench watching and

relaxing with the other starters.

No need for any heroics from the All-Star guard this time.

The Cavaliers finally rolled to an easy win the way they used to

on a regular basis when LeBron James was Cleveland’s hard-court

king.

Irving scored 22 points in just three quarters, rookie Dion

Waiters added 19 and the Cavs didn’t overlook a team with a worse

record than their own by clobbering the Charlotte Bobcats 122-95.

It was Cleveland’s most lopsided win since May 7, 2010 – James’

last victory with the Cavaliers.

”It was the first game that I can remember that I got a chance

to sit down in the fourth quarter without it being the other way,”

Cavs coach Byron Scott said following the unusual blowout, the

biggest during his three seasons in Cleveland. ”So that was a good

feeling.”

The Cavs were coming off a stunning upset of Oklahoma City, one

of the league’s best teams. It would have been easy to take the

lowly Bobcats (11-37) for granted, but Cleveland came out energized

from the start, built a 33-point lead after three quarters and sent

Charlotte to its 11th loss in 13 games.

”This was one of those games where I was really curious to see

if we learned from some of our past mistakes and if we’ve grown as

a basketball team, and I can say we definitely have,” Scott said.

”It’s just a matter of now just keeping it going.”

Tristan Thompson scored 17 for the young-and-improving Cavs, who

are 8-9 since Jan. 1.

”It definitely shows that we’re making steps in the right

direction,” said Irving, who scored 35 – 13 in the final 2:52 –

against the Thunder. ”We’re getting better every single game. To

come out here and just play the second half the way we wanted to,

and the way we finished the first half and continue to execute

offensively and defensively, shows that we’re making strides.”

Byron Mullens scored 15 to pace Charlotte. Bobcats leading

scorer Kemba Walker, averaging 17.8 points per game, had just five

on 2-of-11 shooting.

Scott was eager to see how his team would respond after

Cleveland’s stunning win over the talent-thick Thunder. While

trying not to disrespect the Bobcats, Scott said before tipoff that

”this is a game we should win … this is the game you should be

the most worried about as a basketball player.”

As it turned out, the Cavs had no concerns and coasted to their

biggest win since James and the Cavs beat Boston 124-95 in Game 3

of the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2010.

By halftime, Cleveland was ahead by 28 points, shooting 62

percent from the floor and coasting toward a rare laugher. Irving,

Thompson and Waiters went a combined 17 of 23 from the field in the

first half as the Bobcats appeared as if they couldn’t wait to get

on the plane back to North Carolina.

The Cavs kept it up in the third quarter, pushing their lead to

33 entering the fourth. Cleveland came in averaging 96 points per

game and had 100 by the end of the three, allowing Scott to rest

Irving and the rest of his starters for the final 12 minutes.

At the break, Scott recalled how the great Los Angeles Lakers

teams he played on with Magic Johnson would put away weaker teams

at will.

”We talked about it before games. `This is a team we should

beat by 30, and in the fourth quarter I don’t want to be

playing,”’ Scott said ”That was one of Magic’s statements: I

don’t want to play in the fourth quarter. That means we’ve got to

come out and bury these guys. I told our guys: You’ve got to think

that same way. Don’t think about we’re up 24 at halftime, think

about being down 24.

”We’ve got to come out with that same aggressiveness to try to

put this team away. I thought our guys did that pretty much.”

The Bobcats went 0-5 on a brutal five-game, 10-day trip in which

they also lost rookie forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to a

concussion.

Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap wasn’t pleased with his team’s

finish to the trip.

”There are three or four of those that happen to you,” Dunlap

said. ”They’re not pretty. Obviously the physical effort is

unacceptable. We don’t like that.”

Thompson, a natural left-hander who has shown a deft touch with

his right, scored on consecutive short right-handed jumpers in the

lane and dropped three free throws – with his left – as the Cavs

reeled off 14 straight points to open 21-point lead in the

second.

Notes: Irving made all five of his 3-pointers. … Cleveland had

a season-high 33 assists and a season-low six turnovers. … Scott

said he’ll have no problem with the decision if Miami coach Erik

Spoelstra chooses to start Chris Bosh in the All-Star game rather

than Irving. ”He’s the coach,” Scott said. ”He’s earned that

right to pick who he wants.” … Kidd-Gilchrist sustained his

concussion Saturday in Houston. Before he can play again, he must

pass neurological tests under the league’s concussion protocol. The

earliest he can return is Friday at home against the Lakers. Dunlap

said the rookie ”feels substantially better. His head is

clearer.” … The Bobcats fell to 1-14 all-time in Cleveland.