LeBron misses fourth straight game with finger sprain
WASHINGTON -- LeBron James sat out his fourth game in a row Wednesday night because of a sprained left index finger, making this the longest injury absence of the Cleveland star's career.
James, who did not speak to reporters before the game, was sitting on the sideline in street clothes when the game against the Washington Wizards began.
The Cavaliers lost again, 105-86, falling to 0-4 without James and losers of five consecutive games to fall to 9-11.
The reigning Eastern Conference champions also have been playing without injured players Larry Hughes and Donyell Marshall. Plus, Anderson Varejao has been away during a contract stalemate that ended Wednesday, when Cleveland matched a $17 million, three-year offer sheet he signed with Charlotte.
"By no way, shape or form do we want to play games minus LeBron, minus Larry, minus Andy, minus Donyell," coach Mike Brown said before Wednesday's game. "But stuff happens in the NBA. There are a lot of teams missing multiple guys."
The Cavaliers were embarrassed by New Jersey 100-79 Tuesday night, and Brown criticized his players afterward for a lack of intensity.
Asked Wednesday whether he stood by those comments, the coach said: "Last night, I don't think we competed for an extended period of time, and that was part of the reason we got our behinds kicked."
James was hurt a week ago at Detroit when Nazr Mohammed slapped at the ball as James attempted to shoot. James, in his fifth season, sat out four times last season because of a variety of injuries but didn't miss consecutive games.
Shannon Brown scored a career-high 20 points starting in James' place Tuesday.
James leads the NBA in scoring average with 30.7 points. He's also averaging 7.6 rebounds and 8.1 assists.
"It's tough. The coach is struggling because he's trying to find new combinations. When LeBron is on the floor, 80 percent of our offense runs through him, and we feed off of him and that's why we're good," center Zydrunas Ilgauskas said.
"But when you're missing that big part, all of a sudden you have to find the offense somewhere else. And sometimes I think we try to do too much individually."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press