WASHINGTON -- LeBron James sat out his fourth game in a row
Wednesday night because of a sprained left index finger, making
this the longest injury absence of the Cleveland star's career.
James, who did not speak to reporters before the game, was
sitting on the sideline in street clothes when the game against the
Washington Wizards began.
The Cavaliers lost again, 105-86, falling to 0-4 without James and losers of
five consecutive games to fall to 9-11.
The reigning Eastern Conference champions also have been playing
without injured players Larry Hughes and Donyell Marshall. Plus,
Anderson Varejao has been away during a contract stalemate that
ended Wednesday, when Cleveland matched a $17 million, three-year
offer sheet he signed with Charlotte.
"By no way, shape or form do we want to play games minus
LeBron, minus Larry, minus Andy, minus Donyell," coach Mike Brown
said before Wednesday's game. "But stuff happens in the NBA. There
are a lot of teams missing multiple guys."
The Cavaliers were embarrassed by New Jersey 100-79 Tuesday
night, and Brown criticized his players afterward for a lack of
Asked Wednesday whether he stood by those comments, the coach
said: "Last night, I don't think we competed for an extended
period of time, and that was part of the reason we got our behinds
James was hurt a week ago at Detroit when Nazr Mohammed slapped
at the ball as James attempted to shoot. James, in his fifth
season, sat out four times last season because of a variety of
injuries but didn't miss consecutive games.
Shannon Brown scored a career-high 20 points starting in James'
James leads the NBA in scoring average with 30.7 points. He's
also averaging 7.6 rebounds and 8.1 assists.
"It's tough. The coach is struggling because he's trying to
find new combinations. When LeBron is on the floor, 80 percent of
our offense runs through him, and we feed off of him and that's why
we're good," center Zydrunas Ilgauskas said.
"But when you're missing that big part, all of a sudden you
have to find the offense somewhere else. And sometimes I think we
try to do too much individually."