LeBron scores 30 points in three quarters for Cavaliers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Soaring after an impressive win over Phoenix, the Cleveland Cavaliers weren't about to come crashing back down against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats.

LeBron James scored 30 points in only three quarters to lead the Cavaliers to a 103-91 victory over the gimpy Bobcats on Monday night. It was Cleveland's sixth straight win, four of which came on the road -- the most since the Cavs' won five straight away games in April 1998.

"One of the things I pointed out to the guys was that it was a good win against Phoenix, but if we turn around and go to Charlotte and lose that ballgame, then beating Phoenix the night before doesn't really mean anything," coach Mike Brown said. "Our guys were focused enough to come into the building and get a 'W.'"

The Cavaliers improved to 5-0 against the Bobcats and extended Charlotte's franchise record losing streak to 12 games. The Bobcats have not won since a double-overtime victory against Houston on Jan. 10.

But things could change for them Wednesday when they host the Atlanta Hawks -- the only Eastern Conference team the Bobcats have a winning record against (4-1).

"The reality is the teams we are playing are better basketball teams than we are," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "I do think with all our components, we'd be a pretty good basketball team. I have no reservations about that."

James, who scored 44 in Sunday's win over Phoenix, continued his trend of improving every time he plays against the Bobcats. In all five meetings, he's steadily increased his scoring from 19 points in the first game to 30 this time out.

"This was an important game," James said. "We didn't want to win a big game like we did yesterday, and come in here and not play as well as we can. We took care of business early, got a big lead and just extended it."

James shot 11-of-19, including an alley-oop dunk from Eric Snow that warmed the crowd up and a third-quarter reverse dunk on a breakaway that brought the fans to their feet. Earlier Monday, James said he declined the NBA's request to participate in the All-Star dunk contest.

James, who will compete in the All-Star skills challenge, said he's not a good enough dunker to put on a show.

"I don't predetermine what I'm going to do," he said. "That's why I'm not a good dunk participant. I don't know what I'm going to do until I jump."

With Cleveland leading 83-57 at the end of the third quarter, James pulled on a blue T-shirt and settled in on the bench to watch the final 12 minutes. With under a minute left, he gave his headband to a boy wearing a James jersey sitting along the baseline.

"I've been struggling with playing LeBron too many minutes and I haven't gotten comfortable sitting him down yet," Brown said. "It was good to limit his playing time a little bit today."

James disagreed.

"I'd rather play, but with us being up that many points, there's no need for me to be out there," he said.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas finished with 19 points, Donyell Marshall had 14 and Drew Gooden had 12 rebounds.

Alan Anderson led Charlotte with 14 points, while Melvin Ely and
Matt Carroll scored 12 each. Jumaine Jones had 11.

Cleveland held a 15-point lead early in the second quarter, only to see Charlotte trim it to 39-32. So the Cavaliers put the ball in James' hands to retake control of the game.

James scored seven straight points -- two long jumpers, a driving layup and a free throw -- in a 9-0 run that gave Cleveland a 49-32 lead. It sapped what little energy the injury-depleted Bobcats had, and they never made another run the rest of the game.

"Injuries are part of the game," guard Brevin Knight said. "We need all our pieces to win, but we'll keep fighting and we can turn this thing around and get a win."

The Bobcats got a slight lift in the second quarter when Kareem Rush returned after missing 13 games with a sprained index finger. Rush shook off the rust 8 seconds after checking in by making a 21-foot jumper. He finished with nine points.

But his return coincided with yet another player going out -- guard Raymond Felton, the only Bobcat to play in all 46 games this season. The rookie landed hard on his backside in the first half. Although he came back briefly in the second half, he left with back spasms.

Felton finished with just three points in 12 minutes before joining four other injured Bobcats on the sideline.

"He didn't want to come out tonight, but I think that is where we have to use some discretion so he can live to fight another day," Bickerstaff said.

Game notes
The Bobcats aren't expecting forward Emeka Okafor to return from a sprained ankle for at least another five weeks. He's already missed 19 games. ... Cleveland forward Ira Newble sat out with a migraine headache. ... Brown spent three seasons as an assistant under Bickerstaff in Washington. ... Among the celebrities turning out to see James' show was rapper Nelly, a part-owner of the Bobcats, and NASCAR team owner Teresa Earnhardt.