Shorthanded Warriors put forth gutsy effort in Cleveland
November 17, 2009
CLEVELAND – LeBron James had 31 points and 12 assists, J.J. Hickson added a career-high 21 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers held off a gutsy effort by the short-handed Golden State Warriors, winning 114-108 on Tuesday night.
Injuries and illness left Golden State with seven healthy bodies, although the Cavaliers had their own injury concerns.
Jamario Moon left in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle, and Shaquille O’Neal and Anderson Varejao were both inactive for Cleveland. Varejao was scratched with a hip contusion and O’Neal missed his second straight game with a strained shoulder. Coach Mike Brown doesn’t expect either player back for Wednesday’s game at Washington.
The injuries to O’Neal and Varejao forced the Cavaliers to activate Delonte West, who has been in and out of the lineup this year while dealing with personal issues. West scored two points in 14 minutes after being inactive for the previous three games.
With two of their best post players missing, the Cavaliers found a new option in Hickson.
Hickson has flourished since entering the starting lineup, setting career highs in three consecutive games. Hickson is averaging 19.6 points over the stretch.
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Golden State was within four with less than two minutes to play when Anthony Parker came up with a steal and dished ahead to James, who lofted an alley-oop to Hickson that sent a charge through the sellout crowd at the Q.
James scored 20 in the second half and finished with five rebounds.
Monta Ellis led the Warriors with 23 points and reserve Corey Maggette had 19.
Golden State dressed the league minimum eight players, including Raja Bell, who didn’t play because of a wrist injury that will require surgery next week. Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic were acquired from Charlotte on Monday for Stephen Jackson and Acie Law.
Warriors forward Kelenna Azubuike will have surgery Wednesday for a torn patellar tendon in his left knee and is lost for the season. Guard C.J. Watson is out indefinitely after testing positive for the H1N1 virus.
That left Golden State with two reserves Tuesday – Maggette and Anthony Randolph, who managed to outscore the Cleveland bench, 32-23.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Warriors, who play at Boston on Wednesday.
NOTES: James said before the game he believes he could have been a star in the NFL, too. “If I put all my time and commitment into it, if I dedicated myself to the game of football, I could be really good,” he said. “No matter what team I was on.”