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Cleveland at Charlotte

LeBron watches final minutes as Cavs snap road skid

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A night of frustration for LeBron James might have helped the Cleveland Cavaliers' playoff preparation.

With James watching helplessly from the bench after fouling out for only the third time in his career, a trio of teammates made big plays in the final four minutes as the Cavaliers held off the Charlotte Bobcats 118-114 on Wednesday to snap a six-game road skid.

Entering the night, James had been disqualified twice in 417 games in his five-year career. But after scoring 29 points, James was called for his sixth foul when he reached in on Charlotte's Jason Richardson at the top of his drive to the basket with Cleveland leading 104-101 with 3:56 left.

"I don't like sitting on the bench and not being out there for my teammates," James said. "But I think we made a big step forward."

Wally Szczerbiak, Devin Brown and Zydrunas Ilgauskas then showed the Cavs aren't completely a one-man show.

Szczerbiak hit a jumper, Brown hit two free throws and Ilgauskas had two buckets as the Cavaliers took a 113-106 lead. Richardson hit two 3-pointers to get the Bobcats to 116-114, but Brown made two free throws with 20 seconds left to put it away.

"It doesn't happen a lot to LeBron. It doesn't happen often to superstars of his caliber," Cavs coach Mike Brown said of James' foul trouble. "But it happened tonight and our guys stayed composed and found a way to win the game down the stretch."

Brown finished with 20 points, Anderson Varejao made eight of nine shots and added 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Ilgauskas had 16 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland. The Cavaliers had seven players reach double figures in improving to 17-22 on the road.

"They have a very talented team all the way down the roster," Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace said.

Richardson had 31 points, Emeka Okafor matched a season high with 25 and Wallace scored 21 for the Bobcats, who lost their second straight game amid questions of coach Sam Vincent's future.

With the Bobcats out of the playoff picture, part-owner Michael Jordan hasn't said if Vincent will return next season. And on the same day Vincent made a passionate plea to keep his job, the Bobcats couldn't take advantage of James' absence.

"We want to finish up the season strong. We want to build on getting better as a team and getting ready for next year," said Richardson, who added six rebounds and seven assists. "We played a tough game tonight, but we still didn't get the win."

Early on, James wowed the crowd which included Davidson guard Stephen Curry. James was so impressed with Curry's torrid streak during the NCAA tournament he attended Davidson's upset win over Wisconsin last week in Detroit, when Curry scored 33 points.

Curry returned the favor by watching James -- and even wore a pair of James' line of sneakers.

James made four straight free throws, a 3-pointer and driving layup in a 16-4 run to put Cleveland ahead 81-72 with 3:42 left in the third quarter, wiping out an early 12-point Charlotte lead.

But James picked up his fifth foul with 8:34 left when he smacked Wallace in the face trying to get position in the post. James vehemently protested the call.

"There were a few questionable ones," James said. "I know how to keep myself out of foul trouble for the most part. In my career I've done a great job of that."

With James on the bench, the Bobcats tied it on Richardson's jumper with 5:25 left.

Mike Brown put James back in, but he lasted less than two minutes. He then watched his teammates bail him out.

"It's kind of special," James said. "The guys did a great job of not worrying about me being on the bench. They stepped in and make some big plays."

Notes

  • Cavaliers F Ben Wallace sat out for the fourth time in five games due to back problems. Brown said he's being cautious with Wallace, who has been cleared by the medical staff to play.
  • Bobcats rookie Jared Dudley started ahead of Nazr Mohammed, with Vincent looking for someone to counter the energetic Varejao.
  • Devin Brown fell into the crowd when he was fouled early in the second quarter. He got up, only to trip over another row of chairs, drawing a standing ovation from his teammates on the bench.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Zydrunas Ilgauskas scores 16 points, grabs 12 boards and keeps the rock away from Jared Dudley. (AP)
Zydrunas Ilgauskas scores 16 points, grabs 12 boards and keeps the rock away from Jared Dudley. (AP)

Scoreboard
Cleveland (42-33) «25333426118
Charlotte (28-47) 34282725114
CLE:L. James 29 Pts
CLE:Z. Ilgauskas 12 Reb
CLE:D. Brown 8 Ast
CHA:J. Richardson 31 Pts
CHA:E. Okafor 9 Reb
CHA:R. Felton 9 Ast
Players of the Game
CharlotteCleveland

J. Richardson

L. James
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
31672945
Cleveland
D. Brown, SG414-1411-1258220
D. West, SG353-53-657110
A. Varejao, C338-91-6123317
Z. Ilgauskas, C328-160-0120316
L. James, SF3111-196-645629
J. Smith, PF256-81-230413
W. Szczerbiak, SF225-81-232211
D. Gibson, PG191-70-02322
D. Jones, PF10-10-01000
E. Snow, PGDid Not Play
B. Wallace, CDid Not Play
D. Jones, PGDid Not Play
S. Pavlovic, SGDid Not Play
L. Allred, CDid Not Play
Totals 46-8723-34472823118
 52.9%67.6% 
Charlotte
G. Wallace, SF437-157-972221
R. Felton, PG423-133-55949
J. Richardson, SG4113-221-367431
E. Okafor, C389-147-992625
J. Dudley, PF273-40-02016
N. Mohammed, C255-71-273311
M. Carroll, SG162-50-01125
E. Boykins, PG61-14-40206
R. Hollins, C30-00-01000
D. Anderson, SGDid Not Play
O. Harrington, PFDid Not Play
S. May, PFDid Not Play
A. Morrison, SFDid Not Play
J. Davidson, PFDid Not Play
Totals 43-8123-32382622114
 53.1%71.9% 
Other Games
Tor 120 Final
Atl 127
Mil 110 Final
Wash 109
Ind 77 Final
Bos 92
NO 106 Final
Mia 77
NY 114 Final
Mem 130
Min 100 Final
Utah 117
GS 86 Final
Dal 111
LAC 102 Final
Sea 84
Port 91 Final
LAL 104