CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Cleveland Cavaliers were the last team the Charlotte Bobcats should have looked to for their first victory of the season. After all, the Cavs had won all seven previous meetings as LeBron James seemingly scored at will whenever he faced them.
That all changed Saturday night, when the Bobcats used stout defense on James to hold him to 16 points in their 92-88 victory over Cleveland.
"I guess we killed two birds with one stone -- got our first win of the season and our first win against Cleveland -- and it feels great," forward Emeka Okafor said.
Raymond Felton scored 23 points to lead the Bobcats, who had five players in double figures but were most impressive on defense, holding Cleveland to 38 percent shooting. Charlotte prevented the Cavaliers from opening the season 3-0 for the first time since 2000-01.
"We haven't arrived," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "We have a long ways to go. If we think we can show up and just beat teams, we are going to have a long season."
Yet that's what Cleveland did for Charlotte's first two seasons behind James, who averaged 34 points over the last three meetings alone. And the Cavs looked better than ever coming off Friday night's impressive win at San Antonio.
But James, who scored 35 against the Spurs, never got into a rhythm. He shot just 3-of-13 from the floor as rookie Adam Morrison kept him off balance, forcing James to get his points at the free-throw line, where he made nine of his 10 attempts.
"You've just got to play your best and crowd him and know your teammates are going to be there," Morrison said. "There's going to be some nights that he's going to just do what he does. So you just make him work on his end, and just play as tough as you can because a guy like that can just flip it on."
The only flipping James did against Charlotte came in the final minute of the game when he gave his team quite a scare following a collision with Brevin Knight as the two chased after a loose ball. James dropped to the court in a heap and Brown rushed out to check on his star.
James eventually got up, cringing, and returned to play.
"I've got a headache," he said after the game. "I barely remember it actually, but it felt like I got in a car accident."
Even though he returned to action, it was far too late for the Cavs, who couldn't slow the Bobcats during the second half and couldn't seem to find the basket.
"I'm not going to force nothing," James said. "Tonight we just couldn't make shots. There were a lot of open shots we missed. They're an NBA team just like we are. I don't know if we took them lightly or if they executed better."
Knight scored 17 for the Bobcats, while Sean May added 14 points. Morrison chipped in 13 and Okafor had 12.
The Cavs opened a 12-point lead in the first half, but Charlotte chipped away to cut it to 50-46 at halftime -- in large part due to a mistake by Marshall as time was running out. As Felton threw up a 3-point attempt, Marshall fouled him to send Felton to the line for three free throws with four-tenths of a second on the clock.
Felton hit all three to send Charlotte to the locker room on a high.
Charlotte remained hot through the third quarter, with Felton and Gerald Wallace hitting back-to-back 3s to tie it at 52. Gooden put the Cavs back on top with a free throw and a 17-footer, but Charlotte stayed with them and the game was tied at 63 with 3:02 to play in the third.
Then Morrison hit a fadeaway jumper, May scored on a pretty finger roll and followed it with a long jumper for a 69-63 Charlotte lead.
The Bobcats continued that pace into the fourth quarter, getting five points from Okafor in a 12-2 run that gave them an 81-73 lead with 7:43 to play in the game. They never looked back from there, leading by as many as seven as Cleveland threw up bricks in a futile attempt to get back in it.
- Morrison was called for a technical, the first of his NBA career, for arguing a call in the third quarter. "It was warranted," he said. "He said, 'You can't use swear words,' and I said 'You're right."'
- The Bobcats sold extra seats for the game, making the crowd of 19,147 the largest in the arena's short history.
- Paul Silas, who coached in Cleveland and Charlotte, sat in the stands but wouldn't participate when he was featured on the "Kiss Cam."
- David Wesley, a former member of the Hornets when they played in Charlotte, spent pregame collecting tickets from teammates to accommodate his friends and family that still live in the area.
- Actors Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman were seated at the end of Cleveland's bench.