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CAVALIERS James' ankle injury not serious



Published: Fri, January 28, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Cleveland standout could be in the lineup tonight against the Knicks.

CLEVELAND (AP) -- President Bush wasn't the only notable figure at the Cleveland Clinic on Thursday. LeBron James needed another checkup.

James underwent further medical tests on his sprained left ankle, which is not as badly hurt as it looked when the Cavaliers guard crumpled to the floor in the fourth quarter Wednesday night.

James traveled with his teammates to New York and the Cavaliers said there's a chance he could play in tonight's game against the Knicks. About the same time Bush was pitching his health agenda, James had a thorough examination which did not reveal any more damage to his ankle.

He'll be re-evaluated by trainer Max Benton today and is listed as a game-time decision on the team's injury report. That seemed an impossibility with 9:23 remaining on Wednesday night when James came down on the foot of Memphis forward Dahntay Jones and rolled his ankle.

"You kind of see your life pass before your eyes," said Cavs coach Paul Silas.

While the Cavaliers got good news on James, they learned that starting forward Ira Newble will be out at least one week with an Achilles injury. The club is already thin up front with forward Anderson Varejao sidelined for at least one month with a high ankle sprain.

The Cavaliers are looking to sign a veteran forward to a 10-day contract.

Legend grows

After hobbling off the floor assisted by teammates, James then added to his growing legend by dramatically limping back for the final 4:53 to help the Cavaliers close out a 114-111 win over the Grizzlies.

James' vast talents usually draw comparisons to Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Julius "Dr. J." Erving. On this night, the 20-year-old had a little Willis Reed in his game. Reed inspired the Knicks by limping onto the court in the 1970 NBA finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.

It looked as if James had taken his last shot for a while when he twisted the ankle. He immediately grabbed it and rolled around, slapping his hand against the floor several times only a few feet from where he had his left cheekbone broken by an accidental elbow from Houston's Dikembe Mutombo last month.

"It hurt, but I knew it wasn't as bad as last year," James said referring to a right ankle sprain that sidelined him for three games last January. "I couldn't even walk last year, so I don't think this one is as bad."

James, averaging 27.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 9.2 assists in his last nine games, felt good enough after leaving the floor to put pressure on the tender ankle before getting to the locker room. Once there, he watched the game on TV as his ankle was taped. Then, it was time to get back to work.

The Cavaliers were leading 103-97 and in a timeout when James jogged back to the Cavs' bench to a thunderous ovation, plopped himself down in a seat and told a stunned Silas that he was ready to go.

"I was just trying to figure out who I was going to play," said Silas, who had a "bunch of losses" flash before his eyes before James' sudden return. "I was glad to see him come back."




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