CLEVELAND (AP) -- LeBron James leaned back and yawned. The
Cavaliers didn't wake up until it was almost too late.
James, resting a sprained left ankle for the NBA playoffs,
missed his first game this season on Thursday night and could only
cheer as his teammates rallied for a 91-87 win over the
injury-thinned New York Knicks.
Larry Hughes scored 26 points with 13 rebounds and Donyell
Marshall and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 17 points apiece for the
Cavaliers, who were lifeless for 3½ quarters before storming back
to win their 10th straight at home.
"It took awhile," Marshall said. "It feels good to come back,
not just without LeBron. We don't want to go stumbling into the
playoffs, but playing good ball like we have most of the year."
Cleveland trailed by seven entering the fourth and was still
down 80-71 with 5:33 left before reeling off nine straight points
to tie it on a short turnaround jumper by Ilgauskas with 2:17 to
On New York's next possession, Cavaliers guard Eric Snow reached
in and poked the ball away from Jalen Rose near the foul line and
the ball went to Hughes, whose layup made it 82-80 with 1:56
James, nattily dressed in a yellow vest and silk tie under a
black sports coat, bounced off the bench and bumped chests with
Damon Jones as a sellout crowd at Quicken Loans Arena roared in a
tuneup for the postseason.
Jamal Crawford countered with a 3-pointer for the Knicks, but
Flip Murray, who has made so many big shots since coming to the
Cavaliers in a trade on Feb. 23., drilled a 3 with the 24-second
shot clock about to expire and 41.2 seconds left.
The Knicks stretched the game as deep as they could by fouling,
but Murray made four straight free throws and Ilgauskas dropped in
a pair in the final 18.8 seconds as the Cavaliers improved to 48-30
-- 30-10 at home.
Cleveland's victory total is its highest since winning 54 in
James, who twisted his ankle during a loss at Detroit on
Wednesday, didn't speak to the media before or after the game.
Nate Robinson, starting in place of Steve Francis (back), scored
32 points and Crawford added 19 and nine assists for New York,
which is also without Stephon Marbury, Channing Frye and Quentin
Knicks coach Larry Brown, who has had a tumultuous first season
in New York, became ill and left the bench in the third quarter.
Following the game, the 65-year-old Brown was taken to a local
hospital, where he is expected to spend the night.
Team spokesman Jonathan Supranowitz said Brown complained of an
upset stomach but that his vital signs were "stable."
"All Larry told me to tell you was that, 'I'm fine,"
As he was taken from the arena on a stretcher, Brown was alert
and sat upright with oxygen tubes in his nose.
After Brown fell ill, assistant Herb Williams ran the club the
rest of the way.
Without James, the club's unquestioned leader, Cleveland didn't
look like it was ready for the postseason for most of the game.
And, if not for their third-year superstar, the Cavs wouldn't be
playing beyond next week anyway.
During a particularly lackluster portion of the second quarter,
James seemed to struggle to stay awake on the bench while watching
the Cavs and Knicks fire up bricks.
The Cavaliers, who had been 0-2 vs. New York this season,
have now beaten every team in the league but Golden State. ... Stu
Jackson, the NBA's vice president of basketball operations, spoke
with Cleveland GM Danny Ferry on Thursday about the recent bad
blood between the Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons. In Wednesday
night's game, Cavs F Anderson Varejao was called for a flagrant
foul on Rasheed Wallace. "I don't like the direction of the way
those two teams are playing, albeit that I do like the rivalry that
seems to be developing," Jackson said. "I think that part of it
is good for our game as long as it's played fairly and safely."
... Jason McElwain, the 17-year-old student manager with autism who
made six 3-pointers when he got into his high school's final game,
visited the Cavs' locker room before the game. "Where's LeBron?"
he asked before shaking hands with Damon Jones. "They could put
you in the 3-point contest," Jones told McElwain, whose
heartwarming story has made him a celebrity. "You could shoot a
lot better than some of those other guys."
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