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News » On to Boston via Charlotte

On to Boston via Charlotte

On to Boston via Charlotte
The Cavaliers may not have been looking ahead to Friday's game with the Celtics while they were playing the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night, but it sure didn't take them long to shift focus.

In the minutes after their 111-81 blowout of the Bobcats, Cavs players huddled around the televisions in the locker room to watch and comment on the Celtics' battle with the Rockets. LeBron James' son, LeBron Jr., raced around his dad's legs as he studied each possession.

Other players peeked in from the shower room and the training room - hearing the bellows as the teams traded baskets - to check the score. In the end, the Rockets handed the Celtics their sixth loss in the past eight games, strengthening the Cavs' newfound hold on the best record in the NBA, which is now 28-6.

The Cavs don't win anything for it, but it's the first time they've been on such a pedestal this late in the season since March 1989. Plus there's the psychological advantage for Friday that the Cavs will be the hunted for a change.

"We'd never look past an NBA team," said James of the effort against the Bobcats, in which he had 21 points.

"I can't say [Friday] is just another game, I'd be lying. You want to win as many games and try to get home court throughout the playoffs."

In essence, the Cavs used the meeting with the Bobcats (13-23) as a tune up for the world champs. Coming off their worst overall effort of the year Sunday in Washington, the Cavs showed they were able to patch up some of their issues. Though it helped they were playing a worn down Charlotte outfit, which scored a hard-fought overtime victory over the Celtics on Tuesday night before flying into town while the Cavs rested.

The Cavs moved the ball better and really seemed to home in on attacking the Bobcats off the dribble. Instead of just passing the ball around the perimeter and taking a 3-pointer, as they did for much of the loss to the Wizards, the Cavs drove the ball to the basket.

Mo Williams and Delonte West were the leaders in that area. They combined for just one assist against the Wizards but this time around forced the issue by applying pressure to the Bobcats defense - by driving and kicking.

Williams ended his mini-slump with 15 points and six assists. West scored just seven points but still made a major impact with seven assists, five rebounds and three steals.

As a result, the team scored 54 points in the paint, their second-highest total of the season, and shot 60 percent, also their second-best effort. In perhaps the most telling stat, the Cavs only attempted 14 3-pointers, making seven. It was the fewest 3-pointers they've taken in 18 games.

"When you have numbers like that, it means you drove the ball quite a bit," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "Our guys were trying to move the ball the right way and trying to attack."

The bench also had an extremely productive night. Daniel Gibson, J.J. Hickson and Wally Szczerbiak combined to go 17-of-26 from the floor. Gibson had 15 points and averaged 20.8 points in the now finished three-game series with Charlotte this season. Hickson had 13 points and six rebounds and Szczerbiak was 3-of-3 on 3-pointers for 15 points.

Raymond Felton led the Bobcats with 15 points.

"They're a terrific team," Bobcats coach Larry Brown said. "Everybody knows their role . . . they didn't miss a beat and we never competed a lick."

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-5166

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: January 9, 2009


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