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Wallace, Bobcats hold off James-less Cavs

Dec 9, 2007 - 4:33 AM By Derek Smith PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) - Gerald Wallace and the Charlotte Bobcats had to sweat it out, but they finally broke through.

Wallace had 22 points, five blocks and four steals to help the Bobcats snap their seven-game slide with Saturday's 96-93 win over the shorthanded Cleveland Cavaliers.

Charlotte made 14 free throws in the final minute to post its first win since a 101-92 victory over Portland on November 19.

"We didn't want to lose this ballgame," Wallace said. "We knew if we just knocked down our free throws we'd be able to win this one."

For the fifth consecutive outing, Cavs superstar LeBron James sat out due to his sprained left index finger. Cleveland has yet to set a return date for the 23-year-old All-Star.

Charlotte built a 62-56 lead with 6:30 left in the third quarter before Ira Newble and Larry Hughes took control for the Cavs, who trailed 69-68 heading into the decisive period.

Newble gave Cleveland its first lead of the second half, 74-72, on an easy putback with 9:02 remaining. Newble finished with 15 points off the bench.

Charlotte regained the lead at 78-77 after Matt Carroll split a pair of free throws, but Daniel Gibson hit two foul shots that put Cleveland back in charge with 3:59 remaining.

Carroll's jumper with 2:42 left was Charlotte's final field goal. A pair of free throws from Hughes cut the lead to just one, but the Bobcats continued to shine at the free-throw line and never allowed the Cavs to regain the lead.

With chances to take the lead on their next two possessions, Cleveland committed two of its 27 turnovers.

"We needed to be more focused, especially in the fourth quarter," Hughes said. "We should have been a little smarter with the basketball. We needed to give ourselves better chances."

Hughes scored 22 points in his first game back after missing the last 11 with a bruised left leg.

Ranked 29th in free-throw percentage, the Bobcats made 14 consecutive free throws over the final minute to secure the victory - including 10 by Raymond Felton.

"I knew I could hit every single one of them," Felton said. "I was trying to get the ball and seal the game. I just kept getting fouled and going to the free-throw line. We pulled this one out and were able to get that monkey off of our back."

Cleveland had one last chance to tie the game when Wallace fouled Gibson on a 3-point attempt, but the second-year guard was only able to make two of three with six seconds left.

Emeka Okafor netted 19 points and Jason Richardson added 18 for the Bobcats, who shot 43 percent (28-of-64) from the floor and forced 25 turnovers.

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