When Cleveland and Charlotte last met, the Cavaliers’ offense was out of sync and the Bobcats took advantage.
This hasn’t been a problem for Cleveland lately, its last game notwithstanding.
Although Cleveland’s offense looked sluggish at times Saturday against New Jersey, the Cavaliers (27-8) managed to turn up the intensity down the stretch and defeat the league-worst Nets 94-86. James finished with 28 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Anderson Varejao(notes) added 15 points and 12 boards to help Cleveland win for the 12th time in 13 games.
“I thought Andy’s energy was terrific in the second half,” coach Mike Brown said. “His defense is always great, his energy was terrific and he sparked us to this win.”
Despite a rare poor shooting performance Saturday, connecting on 39.5 percent from the field, the Cavaliers are still averaging 104.4 points on 48.7 percent shooting during their winning streak.
They weren’t nearly this potent five weeks ago.
On Nov. 27 at Charlotte, Cleveland shot a season-worst 21.4 percent from 3-point range in a 94-87 loss, snapping a seven-game winning streak over the Bobcats (13-18). James had 25 points and Mo Williams(notes) finished with 22, but Shaquille O’Neal(notes), who returned to the lineup after missing the previous six games with a strained left shoulder, was the only other Cleveland player to reach double figures with 11 points.
The Cavs were hoping the addition of O’Neal would give their offense an extra boost, but they were held to 98 points or fewer for a third straight game. Cleveland’s offense has since been limited to 98 points or fewer five times in 19 games.
With their offense playing much better, the Cavs hope a rematch at home can help avenge that loss.
Cleveland has won 11 in a row at home since an 86-85 loss to Chicago on Nov. 5, and is 10-0 all-time at Quicken Loans Arena against Charlotte. The Cavs beat the Bobcats 90-79 at home on Oct. 31, and have outscored them by an average of 19.3 points in the last three meetings in Cleveland.
This doesn’t bode well for a Charlotte team that’s had its fair share of problems on the road.
The Bobcats defeated Miami 107-97 on Saturday to snap a seven-game road losing streak and improve to 2-14 away from Charlotte.
The Bobcats led by just one point after three quarters before erupting for 34 in the final period. Stephen Jackson(notes) scored 13 of his season-high 35 points over the final 12 minutes for his second straight 30-point game after failing to reach that mark in each of his first 29 contests.
Jackson, who was acquired from Golden State on Nov. 16, had 17 points in the win over the Cavs later in that month. Gerald Wallace(notes) led Charlotte in that game, matching a season high with 31 points.