James did not practice on Sunday
"I feel a lot better, there's still a little pain, but that's nothing," said James, injured by Houston center Dikembe Mutombo's elbow during a game Wednesday night. "It was one of the hardest hits I ever took. I've never felt anything like that."
He did not accompany the Cavaliers on their trip Sunday to North Carolina for Monday night's game against the Charlotte Bobcats. But the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year is expected to join his teammates, and he could still play against Charlotte.
"It will be a game-time decision -- his decision," Cavs coach Paul Silas said. "It's all up to him. If he thinks he can play, he'll play. There's still a little bit of swelling, but it is down substantially."
James spent part of Sunday morning at the Cleveland Clinic, where he was measured for a plastic mask that he'll be required to wear until the facial fracture heals. The star spoke to the media for the first time since he was accidentally leveled by Mutombo as he moved across the foul lane trying to steal a pass.
James immediately crumbled to the floor after being hit. He writhed in pain for several minutes before walking woozily to the locker room. Almost as quickly as he went down, James realized he was seriously hurt.
"I knew something was wrong with my face because I've never felt something like that before," he said. "I didn't know if it was my temple or my jaw, I just knew it was the left side of my face. I knew something was wrong. I got a concussion -- that was my first time doing that."
James still has stiffness in his face and said he won't rush back if he doesn't feel like himself. After the game at Charlotte, Cleveland plays at home on Wednesday and Saturday.
"It's still up in the air," James said, referring to his return. "I'm going to take my time. If I feel like I'm ready to play tomorrow, I'll play. If not, I'll just wait."
James has done everything this season for the first-place Cavaliers (17-12), who entered 2005 with a 1½-game lead over Detroit and Indiana in the Central Division. He's averaging 24.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 7.2 assists.
As much as Silas would love for James not to miss any games, he's confident his team can keep it together until its leader returns. If James doesn't play, Lucious Harris probably will start at small forward.
"Without LeBron we're not a very good team," the coach said. "It's the truth."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
MORE NBA HEADLINES
- Cavs win NBA draft lottery; Magic get 2nd pick
- Vinny Del Negro out as Clippers head coach
- Boeheim: Melo needs better supporting cast
- Durant to donate $1M to OKC tornado relief