|Cleveland Cavaliers' Alonzo Gee, front, shoots over Charlotte Bobcats' Byron Mullens, back, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Jan. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)|
Irving's 25 points lead Cavs past Bobcats, 102-94
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Kyrie Irving scored 25 points and had seven assists to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 102-94 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday.
The Bobcats led 94-93 with less than two minutes to play, but the Cavaliers closed out the game by scoring the final nine points, getting a pair of key inside baskets from Anderson Varejao, who finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Antawn Jamison added 20 points and seven rebounds for the Cavs, who returned to .500 on the season.
Omri Casspi played a big role in Cleveland's second half comeback with 14 points and seven rebounds with most of his damage coming in the third quarter.
D.J. Augustin led the Bobcats with 24 points and eight assists and Gerald Henderson added 17 points.
The Bobcats (3-11) led 57-46 at halftime after shooting a blistering 59.5 percent from the field, getting 19 points and six assists from Augustin and strong play off the bench. Charlotte's reserves were 11 of 13 in the first half from the field.
However, as hot as the Bobcats were in the first half, they quickly went ice cold in the second, shooting a mere 29.5 percent.
They didn't do much better from the free throw line, converting just 14 of 26 for the game.
The Cavs shot 48.8 percent from the field and pushed their offense into overdrive in the third quarter against the league's worst defense. The Bobcats came in surrendering 102.2 points per game.
The Bobcats are now 1-1 since turning to the "small ball" lineup of Augustin and Kemba Walker in the backcourt. They've averaged 103 points since Walker replaced Boris Diaw in the lineup after averaging 89 points per game in their first dozen games.
After scoring a career-high 23 points in his first start Saturday against Golden State, Walker cooled off against the Cavs, scoring just 14 points on 6 of 21 shooting.
The Bobcats trailed by as many as nine in the first quarter, but outscored the Cavs by 34-16 in the second quarter behind outstanding production from their bench. Derrick Brown and D.J. White were both 4 of 4 from the floor and the Bobcats bench was 11 of 13 from the field as a group as the Bobcats built a nine-point lead.
The Cavaliers rebounded in the third quarter, getting a boost from Casspi and Alonzo Gee, who had a driving dunk on the baseline and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions to tie the game at 77 near the end of the third quarter.
Cavs starting guard Anthony Parker played less than 10 minutes before leaving with a sore lower back. He took only one shot and did not score.
NOTES: Paul Silas talked Monday about how when he was an NBA player he had a chance to meet and get Martin Luther King Jr.'s autograph. However, Silas laments that he long ago misplaced the autograph and doesn't know where it's gone. ... Byron Mullens came into the game averaging 18.5 points per game over his previous four games. ... In his first 83 games, Gerald Henderson averaged just 4.3 points per game, but has averaged 14.5 in the 42 games since.