October 21, 2014

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West breaks finger, leaving Cavaliers thin at guard

INDEPENDENCE – The guards are still changing for the Cavaliers.

In their first game after losing All-Star point guard Mo Williams for four to six weeks due to a sprained left shoulder, the Cavaliers had his replacement, Delonte West, suffer a broken ring finger on his left (shooting) hand Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Coach Mike Brown said West, who started at shooting guard last season when the Cavaliers won an NBA-high 66 games, will miss tonight’s game against Oklahoma City at Quicken Loans Arena. He will be listed as day-to-day after that, with the Cavaliers expecting him to be back in two or three games.

Daniel “Boobie” Gibson, who had fallen out of the rotation in recent weeks, will start against the Thunder. Cleveland will also sign Cedric Jackson to a 10-day contract today.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Jackson, who played his college ball at Cleveland State, had been playing with the Cavaliers’ NBA Developmental League affiliate in Erie, so he’s familiar with the team’s system.

The Cavaliers initially feared West’s injury was much worse. Since he should be back soon, starting small forward LeBron James and starting shooting guard Anthony Parker will share some of the point guard duties with Gibson and Jackson as Cleveland attempts to hold down the fort.

“We may have to do it by committee,” Brown said following a light workout at Cleveland Clinic Courts.

Gibson, who has improved his on-ball defense tremendously, was having a decent season, but had fallen out of the rotation prior to Williams’ injury because Brown didn’t have enough minutes to play four guards.

Now, the University of Texas product will be thrust into the starting lineup.

“The last couple of weeks, I’ve been hoping to catch some minutes,” Gibson said. “It looks like now I’ve got my wish.

“The best thing about this team is I don’t have to go out there and try to do something amazing. We have LeBron, Shaq, A.P., a lot of guys who are capable of doing things. I just have to go out there and be solid.”

Despite their injuries, the Cavaliers, who completed their third season sweep of the Lakers in the last four years with a 93-87 victory on Thursday, were extremely upbeat Friday.

“I need to stay away from those two guys,” Gibson joked about Williams and West. “I’m healthy and looking forward to helping the team continue our success.

“Those guys will be back,” he added. “For me, it’s just a matter of going out there and taking care of my business.”

Brown, who received his ballot to vote for Eastern Conference All-Star reserves on Friday, was also in a jovial mood and went out of his way to campaign for Williams to make the team.

“I’d like to say on the record, and hopefully you guys can put it out there for me, he’s definitely deserving of an All-Star nod,” Brown told reporters.

“When he got hurt, we were the best team record-wise in the East. For him to get the nod is the right thing. He’s very deserving. Hopefully, it does happen because he’s put us in the position we’re in right now.”

Brown also praised West for his play against the Lakers. West had just three points while being guarded primarily by All-NBA defender Kobe Bryant, but did a decent job running the team.

“(Bryant) is a great on-ball defender, so Delonte didn’t get free for the looks he normally gets, but he did a great job running our team,” Brown said. “That’s what you like about Delonte. He’s just a tough, grind-it-out, slow, methodical, take-what-the-defense-gives-you guy.”

In other injury news, reserve small forward Jamario Moon, who has been out with an abdominal strain, is starting to work out, but has not yet gone through a contact practice.

“I feel real good,” Moon said. “I can’t wait to get back on the court. … The return date is still unknown, but my body feels good.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rickn@ohio.net.

TONIGHT

• WHO: Cleveland vs. Oklahoma City
• TIME: 7:30
• WHERE: The Q
• TV/RADIO: FS Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM