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LeBron sits out vs. Knicks to rest sprained ankle

CLEVELAND -- Cavaliers star LeBron James sat out Thursday
night's game against the New York Knicks with a sprained left ankle
he sustained late in the third quarter of a blowout loss at
Detroit.

"If this was a playoff game or we needed him to play this game,
there wouldn't be any question at all," Cavs coach Mike Brown
said. "We'd tape him up. But he's going to be inactive. We'll wait
to see how he is on a game to game basis."

James arrived at Quicken Loans Arena about 1½ hours before game
time. He shook hands with Knicks coach Larry Brown -- his coach on
the U.S. team at the Athens Olympics -- before walking without a
limp to the Cavaliers locker room.

After hanging up his sport coat, James immediately went into the
training room for treatment.

James was not available for comment during the period open to
the media.

The All-Star forward rolled his ankle while being fouled on a
drive to the basket with 1:46 left in the third quarter. He stayed
in to shoot a free throw and complete a three-point play before
hobbling off.

James, who had scored 22 points at the time of the injury, did
not return to the Cavaliers' 96-73 loss.

Mike Brown said his heart skipped a beat when the saw the
21-year-old superstar go down.

"I was worried," Brown said. "We'd like to have LeBron James
for the rest of the season."

X-rays taken at The Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich., were
negative. It was not clear if James underwent further medical tests
in Cleveland.

James missed two games with a left ankle sprain last season and
three as a rookie with a sprained right ankle.

With nothing meaningful left to play for after locking up the
No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Cavaliers will
be extremely cautious with James, who has made a late MVP push. In
the 10 games prior to his injury, the 21-year-old averaged 37.9
points, 6.8 rebounds and 7.4 assists and the Cavaliers went 9-1.

Including their matchup with the Knicks, the Cavs have four
games left in the regular season.

If there is a plus to James' injury, it's that Brown finally has
a reason to rest his young superstar. James is averaging 42.7
minutes per game, second in the league to Philadelphia's Allen
Iverson (43.1).

"Anytime you can get that guy rest, that's the way to go,"
said Brown, who was asked if he had planned to control James'
minutes over the final week anyway.

"I was going to try," he said.

Brown, too, wants to keep James fresh for the playoffs, which
begin in another week.

"He needs to play. He needs to play with Larry Hughes. He needs
to play with Z [Zydrunas Ilgauskas]," Brown said. "We've got four
games left in the season and you can't expect him to sit four games
and come back and be the LeBron James that he is in the first game
of the playoffs.

"I think that's unfair to him and unfair to the team."

Hughes, who missed 45 games with a fractured finger, started for
James against the Knicks.