CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Boris Diaw scored 26 points and hit the tiebreaking free throw with 14 seconds left to lead the short-handed Charlotte Bobcats to a 98-97 victory over the gritty Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
Diaw added 11 assists and seven rebounds in becoming Charlotte's main scoring option after Stephen Jackson was sidelined with his troublesome hamstring injury. Kwame Brown had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Bobcats, who won their fourth straight game to remain one game behind Indiana for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
A night after an emotional home victory over Miami and LeBron James, the Cavaliers almost secured their first two-game winning streak in nearly five months. But Anthony Parker missed a runner at the buzzer.
Ramon Sessions had 24 points and J.J. Hickson overcame foul trouble to score 20 points and grab seven rebounds for Cleveland, which shot 52 percent from the field but couldn't execute its offense in the closing moments.
It was another close win for the Bobcats despite another night of makeshift lineups.
Jackson tweaked his nagging left hamstring midway through the first quarter, an injury that's had him in and out of the lineup for more than a month. Jackson returned in the second quarter, but could barely move, got no lift on his shot and didn't return after halftime.
D.J. Augustin, playing through a twisted left ankle and sore right knee that knocked him out of Monday's game, had 12 assists and eight points. Backup point guard Shaun Livingston (bruised tailbone) remained out and forward Tyrus Thomas was sidelined with pain and swelling in his surgically repaired left knee.
Reserve Dante Cunningham took advantage of his increased playing time to score 12 points for Charlotte, which trailed by eight in the third and 97-95 with 2:02 left.
With the game tied, Diaw got the ball in the post and drew a foul on Ryan Hollins. He hit the first free throw to snap the tie but was short on the second.
Cleveland grabbed the rebound, but advanced it slightly before calling a timeout, forcing them to put the ball into play from the side in the backcourt. After struggling to get into the frontcourt, coach Byron Scott called a second timeout with 2.8 seconds left.
Parker then got the ball on the left side, but his off-balance shot bounced off the rim at the buzzer. It was similar to Charlotte's victory over Milwaukee on Monday, when the Bucks missed three potential game-winning shots in the final seconds of Charlotte's one-point victory.
The Cavaliers spent tremendous energy knocking off the Heat and their former teammate, James, on Monday. Yet they played well for most of the night and looked nothing like a team that entered with 15 wins on the season.
In his second start with Cleveland following back and knee issues, Baron Davis had 11 points and six assists in his return to Charlotte.
The game marked a reunion of sorts for Davis and Bobcats coach Paul Silas, his first NBA coach with the old Charlotte Hornets. Despite their early differences after Silas refused to start him as a rookie, the two have become close even as Davis has clashed with other coaches.
Davis showed a bit of his old self with a fadeaway and a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to put Cleveland ahead 91-88 with 4:39 left.
Notes: Scott was still steaming over the officials incorrectly counting James' 55-foot buzzer-beater at the end of the third quarter Tuesday following a clock error. "I used my initials. I told them it was B.S.," Scott said. "If they want to just give them the game, give them the game." ... Silas said it was no big deal facing the team that fired him in 2005. "If you had asked me this about five years ago I would've wanted to beat the hell out of them," he said, smiling. ... Cavaliers F Samardo Samuels (wrist) is eyeing a Sunday return at New York. "We'll see," Scott said. "The biggest thing for him is can he shoot a 15-,16-footer?" ... Bobcats assistant coach Charles Oakley attended the morning shootaround but remains in too much pain from his back injury to be on the bench for games.
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