Cavaliers won't rush veteran guard back into lineup

Updated: April 4, 2006, 8:41 PM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- Cavaliers guard Larry Hughes returned to action Tuesday night after missing three months with a broken right middle finger.

Shooting Guard
Cleveland Cavaliers

Profile
2006 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
28 16.2 4.2 3.9 .412 .769

"The doctors didn't put any limitations on me," Hughes said before Cleveland's game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.

Hughes then was examined one more time and officially cleared to play, though coach Mike Brown said the flow of the game would determine how the veteran guard might be used.

"He's eager to play, but we're going to take things easy," Brown said. "There's no need to rush him into anything."

Hughes was supposed to miss six to eight weeks after having surgery Jan. 6. However, the finger didn't heal properly and he had a second surgery Feb. 14.

Hughes, who signed a five-year, $60 million contract in the offseason, averaged 16.2 points and 3.9 assists in 28 games before the injury. The Cavaliers had a record of 18-10 with Hughes in the lineup. They are 26-19 without him, thanks to their current eight-game winning streak.

A starter before his injury, Hughes said he's willing to work his way back into the lineup and has no expectation of when he may become a starter again.

"That's basically up to coach," Hughes said. "I think it will be a process where I work my way up."

The Cavaliers have clinched their first playoff berth since 1998 and are attempting to lock up the fourth spot the Eastern Conference. Hughes said he wants to get ready for the postseason.

He'll wear a sleeve on the finger, which is on his shooting hand.

"There's not really any limitations," he said. "I just need to make sure I'm warmed up. My bone is healed. My tissues are healed. I'm icing after every workout."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press