CLEVELAND - Surprise, surprise, surprise!
Cavaliers guard Larry Hughes is hurt again, this time with a deep bone bruise on the outside of his left leg, just below the knee. The shooting guard will require four weeks of treatment before resuming any basketball activity.
"It`s tough," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said prior to Friday`s game against Utah. "I feel bad for him. I feel bad for our team. It`s a tough situation. We`ll figure out a way to strap it on, get after it and get it done."
Hughes, who is making $12 million this season, initially suffered the injury against Phoenix in the Cavaliers` third game. He missed three games and then played in three more, but the pain worsened. An X-ray and MRI on Thursday at Cleveland Clinic revealed a deep bone bruise on the left fibular head, with soft tissue swelling.
"The way I was feeling, I was kind of thinking I needed to rest it for a week or two," said Hughes, who is averaging 6.8 points on.293 field-goal shooting (17-of-58). "I`ve dealt with enough bone things and body things where it takes a little time."
The Cavaliers entered Friday with a 2-4 record with Hughes and 2-1 without him, But shooting guard is the deepest position on the team. Sasha Pavlovic started against Utah, with Devin Brown and Damon Jones, who was battling a lower back strain, backing him up.
"I`d rather not have a guy be injured to show the depth we have," Mike Brown said.
Added LeBron James: "We`re already shorthanded (without injured veterans Donyell Marshall and Eric Snow and holdout Anderson Varejao). To lose another guy is disappointing. There`s nothing we can do about it. All we can do is go out and play."
In three seasons, Hughes` most serious injury was a broken finger on his right hand in 2005-06. The Utah game was the 62nd he`s missed out of 174, with about 20 more as a result of the latest injury.
WANTED: MORE SHOTS
Point guard Daniel Gibson entered Friday averaging 12.2 points on just 7.4 shots a game. He was shooting .567 from the field overall and was third in the league in 3-point percentage at .585 (24-of-41).
"We do need to get him more shots," Mike Brown said. "I need to get him more shots."
Gibson entered Friday having taken 67 shots in 291 minutes. As a means of comparison, Devin Brown, a .371 shooter, had taken 62 in 197 minutes.
"I let the game come to me," Gibson said. "I really don`t press too hard."
Wednesday against Orlando, the second-year pro scored 16 points, making all five of his shots from the field. Four were 3-pointers, making him the first Cleveland player to make that many in a game without a miss. Gibson, however, attempted just one shot in the second half.
"Orlando did a good job of face-guarding me," he said. "That opened a lot of things for my teammates. That`s what I try to do."
The Cavaliers began the night giving up 103.7 points a game, which ranked 26th in the league. Mike Brown is not happy about that, but he did note that Utah, another defensive-minded team, was giving up 100.9 points.
Jerry Sloan`s team, however, led the league in scoring at 109.7. Cleveland was averaging 99.7 points.
"It`s a weird deal right now," Mike Brown said. "As the year goes on, you`ll see the better teams separate themselves. A lot of it will be because of the defensive end of the floor."
'Z' OFF TO GOOD START
Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas is averaging 15.9 points and 12.1 rebounds in 33.9 minutes a game.
"I`ve been impressed," said Mike Brown, who would like to use Ilgauskas no more than 32 minutes a game. "He`s a professional. He always comes into camp ready to play. This year was no different."
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org