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CLEVELAND - Cavaliers coach Mike Brown finally had to buck his conservative style and make a change for Game 3.
Last night against the Spurs, Brown started rookie Daniel Gibson over Larry Hughes at point guard, after Hughes was largely ineffective on offense and defense in the first two games of the finals. Hughes was deactivated because of the injury he initially suffered in the Detroit series, a small tear in the plantar fascia in his left foot.
Hughes shot 1-of-10 with just two assists in two finals games, and his efforts to guard San Antonio's Tony Parker were futile.
"I'm here to give the team whatever we need," Hughes said. "Right now I'm just trying to be realistic about the situation.
"It's tough. I want to play every game, every minute. But at the same time, I'm really honest when I tell you that whatever's best for the team, whatever way we can figure out how to win four games, I'm definitely all for it."
The decision might not have been made if Hughes' replacement wasn't such an obvious choice. Gibson had averaged nearly 19 points on 59 percent shooting in his past five games. He's been the Cavs' best shooter, making 46 percent of 3-pointers in the playoffs.
"Whatever coach asks me to do, I'm going to go out there and do it," Gibson said.
Brown was quick to credit Hughes for playing through pain, as well as taking cortisone and Novocain injections before games.
"He's been great the entire playoffs," Brown said. "We wouldn't be in this position if it weren't for Larry."
BROWN, WESLEY IN: The Cavs activated two guards, rookie Shannon Brown and veteran David Wesley, for Game 3. Forward Ira Newble was deactivated in addition to Hughes. Neither Brown nor Wesley has played in the playoffs.
Mike Brown said activating Brown and Wesley was not a move to help combat Parker.
"I'd be a little worried about putting any of those guys on Tony Parker, because David hasn't played much and he's older, and Shannon hasn't played much," Brown said.
EXCITEMENT: Cleveland hosted its first ever NBA finals game last night, and its first finals game of any professional sport since 1997 when the Indians played in the World Series.
"It's definitely going to be a great experience, I think, for all Cleveland fans, for northeast Ohio, for the whole state of Ohio," LeBron James said.
"It's going to be electrifying."
SNOW SPEAKS: In Game 2 Eric Snow minced no words. ESPN radio caught Snow lecturing his teammates during a timeout near the end of the first half: "It's all about, they are outworking us. If you don't think so, you're kidding yourself. We've got to play better. Everybody knew it. Stick to the game plan."
In the fourth, the Cavs cut a 29-point deficit to eight, perhaps taking Snow's words to heart. Snow, a 12-year veteran, could be a coach when his career is over.
"I think it just needed to be said," Snow said yesterday. "I hold myself accountable to everything I would say to them."41.50436 -81.69046