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
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
"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
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."
scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the
Cavaliers, who held a 50-38 rebounding advantage.