West returns to lineup after wrist injury
CLEVELAND -- Delonte West returned to Cleveland's lineup Sunday night, giving the Cavaliers their starting five players for the first time since Dec. 30.
West, who missed 16 games with a broken right wrist, averages 12.3 points a game and is the Cavaliers' best defender in the backcourt. He was injured Jan. 15 against Chicago when he crashed to the floor while trying to block a shot.
"He's a very good defender and offensively he does a lot for this team," coach Mike Brown said.
While Cleveland went 12-4 without West, his presence has been missed. The 6-foot-3 guard, who shoots with his left hand, is shooting 46 percent from the field, including making 40 percent of his 3-point shots. He also averages 3.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds. West will play with a pad on his right wrist.
Cleveland entered the game with a 42-11 record and a 15-game lead over the Pistons in the Central Division.
"They were still playing well without him, but he adds toughness and another ball-handler on the floor," Detroit coach Michael Curry said. "He's a guy who can run the pick-and-roll and is someone who can shoot the 3."
Cleveland has been battling injuries to key players throughout the season. While West was out, the Cavaliers, who lead the Central Division by 15 games, also had to deal with injuries to center Zydrunas Ilgauskas and forwards Ben Wallace, Tarence Kinsey and Sasha Pavlovic.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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