NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. -- After only two preseason games, Shaquille O'Neal knows he still has some work to do to mesh with his new team.
O'Neal played 18 minutes in Cleveland's 102-96 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night, and the Cavaliers' newest big man didn't have the best of opening quarters, throwing a couple of no-look passes that went just behind or in front of his teammates.
But O'Neal got into a groove during a brief third quarter appearance, making a short hook shot and a dunk and hitting Mo Williams for an open 3-pointer before leaving the game for good with 12 points and four rebounds.
O'Neal likes his new home and teammates, but he isn't ready to make any predictions on how good this team can be.
"I'll be able to tell by March or April if we have the potential to win," he said after the game.
O'Neal and LeBron James took their show on the road for the first time. James played even less than O'Neal, scoring 11 points and getting five assists in just 17 minutes, all in the first half. The highlight for James came when he shook off a defender and drove for a dunk that led to one of the few oohs from the sellout crowd at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Gerald Wallace led Charlotte with 18 points, while Alexis Ajinca added 15 points off the bench.
The Cavaliers started J.J. Hickson in place of Anderson Varejao, who was having lower back spasms. Hickson, whom James has mentored during the offseason, had 15 points and six rebounds and was the only Cleveland starter playing in the final minutes as the Cavaliers held off several Bobcats runs.
Hickson followed James around all summer, working out whenever they could find the time and hanging out with James' family.l
"I see the potential in him. If he just had a good work ethic, that could help him," James said. "He learned more about being a man also, growing up, being around me and my family and things like that -- I think it helped him."
Hickson played 29 minutes, more than any other Cavalier, and coach Mike Brown said he wanted to see what the second-year player from North Carolina State could do if he got a chance.
"For him to be able to do some of the things he's done so far, it's good to see," Brown said.
Cleveland's Delonte West didn't play for the second straight preseason game. The team said he was out for personal reasons. The guard was expected to take a few days off as he deals with an arrest last month on misdemeanor gun possession charges in Maryland.
Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler of the Bobcats both missed the game with ankle injuries.
"We've got to get Tyson Chandler and Boris Diaw on the court, then things will get better," Charlotte coach Larry Brown said. "We have to get one of our big guys to step up and give us honest minutes."
Raymond Felton scored 11 points, enjoying his first trip back to play in his home state of South Carolina as a pro.
"We've still got a lot of things we need to work on, but that's what preseason is for," Felton said.