CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Center Al Jefferson continued his stellar play with 28 points and the Charlotte Bobcats beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 101-92 on Friday night.
Jefferson, on a tear since being snubbed for an All-Star selection, hit eight of his first nine shots from the field and went on to finish 12 of 18.
He narrowly missed scoring 30 or more for the 10th time in the last 16 games.
The Bobcats raised their record to 29-33 and beat Cleveland for the third time this season, clinching a tiebreaker for the playoffs. Charlotte also retained its hold on the No. 7 Eastern Conference playoff spot.
The Bobcats led by as many as 11 points in the first half but found themselves down 81-80 with just under eight minutes to go. They went back to work at that point, eventually outscoring Cleveland 21-11 the rest of the way.
Charlotte led 88-85 when forward Josh McRoberts hit a 3-pointer with 3:39 left to push the lead to six and then Jefferson followed with a jumper to boost the margin to 93-85 with 3:07 left.
Cleveland fell to 24-39 and lost its third straight.
Guard Dion Waiters and forward Luol Deng scored 19 points apiece to lead the Cavaliers. Guard Kyrie Irving was held to 13 and center Spencer Hawes also scored 13.
The Bobcats also got 20 points and 14 assists from guard Kemba Walker, 14 points from guard Chris Douglas-Roberts, 11 from McRoberts and 10 from guard Gary Neal.
Walker had six of his points from the line in the final minute. Douglas-Roberts hit four 3-pointers on a night when the Bobcats were 9 of 29 from beyond the arc.
NOTES: This was the third of four games between the teams this season. The Bobcats won the previous two, 90-84 in Charlotte on Nov. 1 and 86-80 in Cleveland on Nov. 15. The teams will meet again in Cleveland on April 5. … This also marked the third time that the Zellers have faced each other. Cavs F Tyler Zeller and Bobcats F Cody Zeller are brothers. … Bobcats C Al Jefferson is the only player in the Eastern Conference averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game and one of only five players in the NBA. … The Bobcats came into the game with 14 wins by six points or fewer. That is the most such wins by any team in the league. … The Cavs were without C Anderson Varejao (sore back), G C.J. Miles (sprained left ankle) and G Carrick Felix (left patellar stress fracture). … Bobcats G Gerald Henderson missed his third straight game with a strained right calf, and coach Steve Clifford said Henderson will not play on Saturday at Memphis. … The Bobcats have not had C Brendan Haywood (stress fracture left foot) at all this season and have lost F Jeffery Taylor (ruptured right Achilles) for the rest of the season. Clifford said Haywood will see the doctor again next week, but there is still no time frame for his return. … The Cavs will return home to face New York on Saturday night, then will head west for games at Phoenix, Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers.
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