Karl returns to Nuggets' bench

CLEVELAND -- Nuggets coach George Karl was on the bench against Cleveland on Thursday night for his first game since disclosing he has neck and throat cancer.

Karl, who revealed the illness on Tuesday, likely will miss some games and practices while undergoing a rigorous six-week treatment program of radiation and chemotherapy. He accompanied his team on its two-game trip to Cleveland and Washington, where the Nuggets play Friday night.

"It's going to be my sanctuary to do what I like to do and forget maybe the things that are always going to pop into your mind," Karl said of being on the sidelines.

Karl, a survivor of prostate cancer, said he expects to miss at least a couple of upcoming games, at Golden State on Feb. 25 and at Minnesota on March 10. But he is optimistic about making a full recovery in time for the playoffs in April.

"I felt a little bit different the last three days because I had chemotherapy treatment," Karl said. "I had a lot of headaches and I still have a little nausea, but other than that I'm fine."

Karl said he has received an outpouring of support from around the league.

"It's been very nice, a lot of players, a lot of coaches, a lot of ex-players," he said. "The basketball family has a way of being angry competitors towards one another, but when there's trouble and there's pain, it unifies pretty quickly. I do appreciate it and I thank them all."

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown saw Karl's announcement on television.

"That was a tough interview to watch," Brown said. "He said it best. He said he doesn't need anyone to feel sorry for him, but he'd like everyone's support, so that's what we all should try to do is give him as much support as possible. I'm sure the people that are close to him every day are going to give him a ton of it."

Brown has known Karl for several years.

"He's a fighter," Brown said. "He's a tough guy. If anybody can kick cancer's behind, he's one of the guys I'd put my money on. My heart goes out to him and his family being in that situation, but I know he's going to fight through it."

Karl, 58, has coached Denver to the playoffs each of the last five seasons. His 260 wins since joining the Nuggets in January 2005 are the second most in team history.

The Nuggets started the day at 35-18 and leading the Northwest Division.

Karl recently signed a contract extension with the Nuggets and coached the Western Conference All-Star team last Sunday. He was successfully treated for prostate cancer in 2005. His son, Coby, also is a cancer survivor.

Karl coached the Cavaliers from 1984-86.

Karl said assistant coach Adrian Dantley would lead the team when he's absent.