Houston 98, Cleveland 87
Rockets Fly Past Cavaliers
CLEVELAND, Dec. 29 (Ticker) -- So much for LeBron James' happy birthday. The Cleveland Cavaliers' franchise player is going to spend his 20th with team physicians.
Late in the second quarter of the Cavaliers' 98-87 loss to the Houston Rockets, James, who turns 20 tomorrow, left the game after an accidental elbow from Rockets' reserve center Dikembe Mutombo and did not return.
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After undergoing X-rays and a CAT scan, James was back at Gund Arena after the game but did not speak with reporters. Test results are expected Thursday.
Houston took advantage to snap a five-game road losing streak and recovered nicely from a 28-point loss at Milwaukee on Tuesday. Tracy McGrady scored 22 of his game-high 34 points in the second half and Yao Ming added 20.
But James' injury was the focal point of postgame discussion.
"When you lose your best player, it's always hard to recover," Cleveland coach Paul Silas said. "I thought we did very well through the third quarter. We made a run at it, but T-Mac (McGrady) hit some big shots."
With the Rockets leading, 50-40, James attempted to intercept a pass in the lane, only to be hit near his left eye by a violent elbow from Mutombo.
"All I know is that I was running to the basket, and T-Mac was trapped and he was trying to get the ball to me," Mutombo said. "I knew there was a collision. The next thing I knew LeBron James was on the floor. Maybe when we get home I'll watch it on TV."
"When (James) stayed down, I knew it was pretty bad," Cavaliers guard Eric Snow said. James was on the floor in obvious pain for a few minutes before being assisted to the locker room with a towel held to his face. He was 0-of-5 from the floor with five assists when he left.
"When a guy like that goes out, the opponent has an advantage somewhat because you're losing 25 (points), seven (rebounds) and seven (assists)," McGrady said. "It's tough to replace that."
For a time, James' absence seemed to spark the Cavaliers, who rallied to tie the game in the third quarter. Cleveland never managed to reclaim the lead, however, and lost for just the third time in 14 home games.
"We stepped up when LeBron went down, but Tracy (McGrady) hit some tough contested shots," said Cavaliers guard Jeff McInnis, who had 10 assists.
McGrady scored 10 points in the third quarter, including the Rockets' last five to help his club take a 73-69 lead into the fourth.
With the margin stuck at four with just over two minutes left, Houston's star forward scored seven straight points - capped by his third 3-pointer of the contest.
Yao scored 15 of his 20 points in the first half and Juwan Howard added 17 on 7-of-9 shooting as the Rockets won on the road for the first time since November 21.
"We didn't know that James was hurt, I mean that he was going to be out," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "So we couldn't warn (our team) about (a let down)."
"We just took care of the ball the whole game," Houston forward Maurice Taylor said. "We got outrebounded, but we held our turnovers down and we played great half-court defense."
The Rockets have won eight of 12 and are one win away from evening their mark at .500 for the first time since that last road win improved their mark to 6-6.
"I think everybody is tired of fooling around with that .500 position," McGrady said. "We're trying to get over it."
Drew Gooden scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who held a 50-38 rebounding advantage.
Is this what you loser scumbag Rockets need to resort to?!?!?!! Oh the humanity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lol
Bummer, I hope he gets better soon.
Motombo seems to accidentally elbow a lot of people.
Give me the rundown of the "accidental" Cookie Monster victims please.
good, im glad someone laid that little sissy faggot out
Mtumbo swings his elbows as much or more than any other player Ive seen besides Shaun Bradley
Broken orbital for Lebron, he's gonna wear a mask now. Hopefully he doesn't look like as much of a weasely little faggot bitch as Hamilton does.
Didn't look at all like a dirty play to me. LeBron going after a pass, and really ran into Deke. Didn't look too bad at first.
Mutombo was the one who put Hamilton IN that goofy mask, isn't he??
I watched the game, watched the replay multiple times. even the clevland announcers didn't think it was dirty.
"Mutombo was the one who put Hamilton IN that goofy mask, isn't he?"
lol, I have no clue, but that's kinda funny/ironic if true.
Anybody else know if Mutombo is the guy who turned Rip into the phantom of the ugly??
High school kid just found out NBA roundball is a game for men. Speedy recovery, but keep the elbows flyin'.
You're just full of ridiculous comments aren't you. lol