MIAMI -- Cleveland center Zydrunas Ilgauskas returned to the
Cavaliers' starting lineup in Miami on Sunday for the first time
since his wife went into early labor and lost twin babies.
Ilgauskas missed four games, a stretch that began before the
His wife, Jennifer, began having problems after Cleveland played
the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 11. She was about five months'
pregnant at the time, and delivered a stillborn boy and girl on
Feb. 14, Ilgauskas said.
"Neither one of them survived, so obviously, I just had to take
some time for myself to take care of things," Ilgauskas said
softly before the Cavaliers lost 86-81 to Miami on Sunday.
He added that losing the babies was the toughest thing he's ever
"It puts life in perspective," he said.
Ilgauskas stayed with his wife, grieving privately, for several
days before resuming personal workouts last Wednesday and
practicing again with the Cavaliers on Saturday.
The trip to Miami was the first time he'd traveled with the team
since the tragedy.
"He looked good in practice," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said
of Ilgauskas, who entered Sunday averaging 11.7 points and 8.2
rebounds, and finished with eight points and nine rebounds in 28
minutes against the Heat.
Ilgauskas said he was looking forward to getting back to
basketball, if for no other reason than to have his mind occupied
by something else for a few hours.
"The team needs me and I need these guys," he said. "We don't
have many games left before the playoffs start, so it was important
for me to be here. ... It felt like the right time. The more time
you miss, the harder it is to come back."
He wasn't the only player Cleveland got back on Sunday.
Guard Damon Jones was active; he's been battling strep throat
and had three points on 1-for-6 shooting. But forward
Sasha Pavlovic (flu) was not with the team, and Brown said he wasn't sure
when he'd rejoin the Cavaliers.
"It's a day-to-day thing," Brown said.