Cavaliers-Bobcats Preview

The Associated Press

A balanced scoring attack helped give the Cleveland Cavaliers enough to win their opening game for a second straight season. A 2-0 start has been a little more rare.

Cleveland will try to accomplish that feat for the first time in seven seasons when it visits the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night.

The Cavaliers had seven players with at least nine points, led by Tristan Thompson's 18, but it needed Anderson Varejao's jumper with 28 seconds left and Kyrie Irving's four late free throws for a 98-94 win over visiting Brooklyn on Wednesday.

Irving had 15 points - despite missing 12 of 16 shots - along with nine assists and seven rebounds. Varejao scored five of his 11 points in the final 1:43.

"It was a gritty, grimy, ugly game, just how I like it and it was fun," said coach Mike Brown, who returned to the Cleveland bench after two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. "I think our guys enjoyed it."

Cleveland also got a brief glimpse of new center Andrew Bynum, who played in his first game since the 2012 playoffs with the Lakers.

Bynum was traded to Philadelphia in August of that year but never played a minute for the 76ers because of problems with his knees. He signed a two-year contract with Cleveland in July, and had three points, three rebounds, two blocks and two assists in less than eight minutes.

The Cavaliers, who are seeking their first 2-0 start since the 2006-07 season, are expected to limit Bynum's minutes for the near future.

"We don't want to rush him," Brown said. "We want to make sure as best we can that we take our time and do this thing the right way."

The Bobcats also have a new center in Al Jefferson, but he is out for this game after re-aggravating his right ankle.

Jefferson signed a three-year, $41 million deal with the struggling franchise in July. After missing much of the preseason with a sprained right ankle, he had 13 points on 6-of-19 shooting and eight rebounds in his debut Wednesday, a 96-83 loss in Houston.

Charlotte shot just 36.7 percent and went 1 of 9 from the field during Houston's pivotal 14-4 run in the fourth quarter.

The Bobcats concluded the 2012-13 season by shooting 50.7 percent in a 105-98 home victory over Cleveland that snapped a six-game skid in the series.

Kemba Walker led the way with 24 points in that win and Josh McRoberts matched a career high with 20 while making all six shots, including three from 3-point range. McRoberts had a team-best 15 points Wednesday.

Irving is shooting 55.7 percent in five career games against Charlotte, tied for his third-best against any opponent. He averaged 26.3 points and made 10 of 18 3-pointers in last season's three meetings.

What to Read Next