The last time the Cleveland Cavaliers visited the Charlotte
Bobcats, they were in the early stages of a 26-game losing
This time, they’ll head to Time Warner Cable Arena off a
performance that may almost make them forget the rest of their
After spoiling LeBron James’ latest homecoming, the Cavaliers
look to do the same Wednesday night to the Bobcats’ three-game
winning streak – and their renewed playoff hopes.
Cleveland (15-58) finished with the league’s best record in each
of James’ final two seasons, but it’s heading toward having the
most ping-pong balls in the draft lottery without him.
But even in a season that’s featured an NBA-record losing
streak, the Cavaliers have had a few bright spots – including home
wins against Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers.
They notched a far more meaningful victory Tuesday night,
though. After getting walloped by 28 in James’ initial visit back
to Quicken Loans Arena on Dec. 2, Cleveland got its revenge,
shooting a season-high 55.6 percent and stunning Miami 102-90
despite coughing up all of a 23-point third-quarter lead.
“The last game here (against the Heat) left a bad taste in my
mouth,” coach Byron Scott told NBA.com. “They embarrassed us, and I
was still a little ticked off by what happened. This was a great
Expecting the Cavaliers to carry that momentum into Wednesday
seems like a long shot, however. Cleveland hasn’t won consecutive
games since Nov. 6-9, and it’s been outscored by an average of 15.6
points in going 2-29 on the road since then.
It’s also been routinely routed on the second night of
back-to-back situations. Since falling 101-92 at Charlotte (31-42)
on Dec. 29, the Cavaliers have lost their last nine back ends by an
average of 18.9 points.
Facing a Bobcats team that’s suddenly back in playoff contention
isn’t likely to reverse that trend. After falling three games
behind Indiana for the Eastern Conference’s No. 8 playoff spot with
a 111-88 loss to the Pacers last Wednesday, Charlotte is back
within a game.
It won its third straight Monday in particularly unlikely
fashion. Down 86-80 to Milwaukee with 3:52 to play, Gerald
Henderson scored the game’s final seven points to lift the Bobcats
to an 87-86 victory.
Henderson, who’s started all 16 games since Gerald Wallace was
traded, has averaged 14.4 points and shot 49.3 percent since March
“I have to give him all the credit in the world,” coach Paul
Silas said. “He’s really finding himself at the right time.”
While the Bobcats expect center Kwame Brown, who missed Monday’s
win to be with his ill daughter, back Wednesday, there are still
plenty of health concerns for Silas’ club. Fellow big men Joel
Przybilla and DeSagana Diop are sidelined with injuries, and
forward Tyrus Thomas could miss the game after leaving Wednesday’s
shootaround with knee pain.
Starting point guard D.J. Augustin (bruised knee, sprained
ankle) is expected to play, but backup Shaun Livingston (bruised
tailbone) remains out.
If Augustin, who had 28 points in the win over Cleveland in
December, can only play limited minutes, forward Boris Diaw – who
logged time at center Monday – and little-used guard Garrett Temple
could split time at the point.
Even if the Cavaliers catch a break there, they’ll need to
contain the other member of Charlotte’s backcourt. Stephen Jackson
has averaged 26.5 points during the Bobcats’ four-game winning
streak in the series – including 38 in December.
The teams conclude their season series Tuesday in Cleveland.