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Cavaliers may lose Varejao for six weeks



Published: Wed, January 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Rookie forward and fan favorite injured an ankle Monday against Washington.

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Cavaliers rookie forward Anderson Varejao could miss six weeks with a severely sprained left ankle, and oft-injured guard Dajuan Wagner is back in the hospital with a stomach ailment.

Varejao's loss is an especially tough one for the Cavaliers, who have benefited from the shaggy-haired 6-foot-10 Brazilian's energy and hustle off the bench. Varejao is averaging 4.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in just 13.7 minutes.

Varejao had 10 rebounds in 18 minutes on Monday night against Washington before teammate Lucious Harris fell on his lower leg, twisting it awkwardly. The Cavaliers described the injury as a high ankle sprain and said he'll be out four to six weeks.

"It's a big blow right now to lose anybody on our team, we can't afford it," LeBron James said. "His energy and rebounding has really helped us."

Moving up the depth chart

With Varejao out, backups DeSagana Diop and Scott Williams will get more playing time. The Cavaliers host Memphis on Wednesday night.

Varejao's injury might also accelerate general manager Jim Paxson's search for another big man through a trade. Varejao has become a fan favorite and a pleasant surprise for the Cavs, who acquired him along with Drew Gooden in a July trade with Orlando.

Meanwhile, Wagner has experienced additional effects from colitis -- an inflamed large intestine -- and was admitted to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden, N.J., for additional treatment and observation.

It's the latest medical setback for Wagner, a first-round draft pick whose NBA career has been slowed by injuries.

Wagner, hospitalized two weeks ago with colitis, missed 35 games in his 2002-03 rookie season because of surgery for a bladder infection. Last season, Wagner had an inflamed liver and pancreas that delayed knee surgery and he played in just 44 games. He has appeared in only 11 games this season, averaging four points.

Also, the Cavaliers will probably be without starting guard Jeff McInnis against Memphis. McInnis is expected to miss his third straight game with a sprained left foot.

McInnis got hurt last week in a blowout loss at Sacramento, and while his foot has improved during treatment, he's still unable to move laterally.

"I don't want to come back too early like I did with the shoulder last year," said McInnis, sidelined last season with a bruised shoulder. "I'm sore, but I feel better."

McInnis said he expects to be back in the lineup on Friday when the Cavaliers play at New York.




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