Cavaliers-Bobcats Preview

It didn’t take long for the Charlotte Bobcats to match last

season’s win total, but they never recovered from a lengthy losing

streak.

Still, a late-season push could help them avoid the league’s

worst record.

Charlotte goes for a season high-tying third straight victory in

Wednesday night’s season finale against a visiting Cleveland

Cavaliers team that could be playing its last game under coach

Byron Scott.

With a 7-5 start under first-year coach Mike Dunlap, the Bobcats

took a little more than three weeks to equal their victory total

from a season ago when they finished 7-59 for the worst winning

percentage (.106) in NBA history.

Charlotte (20-61), though, dropped its next 18 – eight fewer

than Cleveland’s league-record 26-game skid two seasons ago.

The Bobcats will miss the playoffs for a third consecutive

season, but they have an opportunity to leapfrog Orlando and escape

the NBA cellar. The teams are tied for the worst record, with the

Magic closing at Miami on Wednesday.

“We want to take care of that,” guard Gerald Henderson said

after scoring a team-best 27 points in Monday’s 106-95 victory over

New York. “It’s not been one of our goals to start the season,

obviously, but it’s become a smaller goal for us as we’ve come down

the stretch.”

Charlotte has been playing well at home over the last month,

winning seven of nine following back-to-back victories over

Milwaukee and the Knicks. The Bobcats won a season-best three

straight overall Nov. 10-14.

The Cavaliers (24-57), meanwhile, arrive in Charlotte following

a fifth straight defeat and 15th in 17 games, 96-95 to the Heat on

Monday. It was a far better effort than Sunday’s 91-77 loss at

Philadelphia, but Scott still sounded like a defeated man.

“I’m fatigued, mentally, physically, a little bit of

everything,” he said. “But I still wake up every morning ready for

work.”

There’s a chance Scott won’t be doing that much longer for the

Cavs, even though he’s under contract for next season, which would

be his fourth with the team.

“I am going to be back to coach them,” he said. “I’ve got a year

left on my contract, so unless I’m told different, I expect to do

that.”

Expectations were high on Kyrie Irving, last season’s Rookie of

the Year, but the Cavs’ injury-plagued point guard has played just

58 games and been inconsistent at times. Of his past nine games,

he’s scored at least 27 points four times but averaged 11.2 in the

other five.

Irving has keyed Cleveland winning both meetings with Charlotte

this season, scoring 33 in a 106-104 victory at Charlotte on Jan. 4

and finishing with 22 in a 122-95 home win Feb. 6. That was the

Cavs’ sixth straight win in the series and most lopsided since

LeBron James left for Miami.