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Published: Wednesday, 2/25/2009

Without West, Cavaliers roll past Grizzlies

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Grizzlies' Mike Conley tries to get inside the Cavaliers' Daniel Gibson during the fourth quarter Tuesday night in Cleveland. The Grizzlies' Mike Conley tries to get inside the Cavaliers' Daniel Gibson during the fourth quarter Tuesday night in Cleveland.
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CLEVELAND Playing short-handed is nothing new for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

With starting shooting guard Delonte West inactive two days after returning from the right wrist fracture that sidelined him for 16 games, the Cavaliers relied on a team effort to beat the Memphis Grizzlies, 94-79 on Tuesday night.

Daniel Gibson scored 19 points and Mo Williams added 18. The Cavaliers never trailed, making for a relatively easy night for LeBron James, the NBA s second-leading scorer. James scored 15 points in 30 minutes and didn t play the fourth quarter, thanks to Cleveland s big lead throughout the game.

Rudy Gay and Hakim Warrick scored 13 points apiece for Memphis, which lost its fifth straight.

The Cavaliers announced before the game West, who scored 25 points Sunday in his return against Detroit after being injured on Jan. 15., is experiencing general soreness in the wrist. With a 44-11 record, the Cavaliers want to be cautious as they eye playoff positioning and the postseason.

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said West s wrist was sore at the team s shootaround Wednesday morning and the decision was made before the game that he wouldn t play.

As far as I know, it s a maintenance thing, Brown said. He had his wrist immobilized for a few weeks. It might be something he has to deal with (the remainder of the season.)

Brown didn t know if West would be available when the Cavaliers open a difficult four-game trip in Houston on Thursday. The trip includes games in San Antonio, Atlanta and Miami.

Sunday s game marked the first time since Dec. 30 that the Cavaliers, who have been dealing with injuries all season, had their complete starting lineup on the floor. West s absence didn t matter against the Grizzlies, who fell to 3-22 on the road. The Cavaliers have won five straight and are 26-1 at home.

We just have guys step up night in and night out, Brown said. Whenever a guy goes down or someone s having an off night, we ve got to get production somewhere else.

Gibson, who has been inconsistent throughout the season, stepped up in an easy tuneup for the trip. He was 8-of-14 from the field and made three 3-pointers.

It felt great, he said. I couldn t stop smiling. It s been frustrating to have a good game one game and another game to be just out there.

I told him it was about time he started making shots, James said with a laugh. We need that out of him.

The Cavaliers jumped to a 12-4 lead and added a 14-6 run to end the first quarter. Cleveland steadily built the lead, which reached 58-36 at halftime. The biggest cushion was 71-45 midway through the third quarter.

Memphis rookie guard O.J. Mayo, who came into the game averaging 19.4 points, was held to seven, making only 3-of-11 from the field.

They re right up there, one of the top four teams in the league, Mayo said. They play with confidence and they play together.

The Grizzlies are 4-9 under coach Lionel Hollins, who took over on Jan. 25 when Marc Iavaroni was fired.

We got beat, Hollins said. That s the only thing I can take away from this game.

Mike Conley and Darrell Arthur scored 12 apiece for Memphis.

Joey Crawford was part of the officials crew, marking the first time the veteran referee officiated a Cleveland game since his controversial call decided the Cavaliers 96-95 loss in Indiana on Feb. 10. Brown sharply criticized Crawford following the game and was fined $25,000 by the league.

Crawford whistled James for a foul on Pacers forward Danny Granger in the final second. Crawford felt James made contact with Granger, who sank one free throw to give Indiana the win. Brown claimed Crawford made a predetermined or makeup call against James, who had been involved in a similar play moments earlier when Granger was whistled for a foul while trying to defend an alley-oop pass intended for James.

That incident happened, Brown said before the game. I got penalized for it. I m OK with that and I ve moved on.

James avoided saying anything inflammatory before the game.

I came to play the Grizzlies, I didn t come to play Joey Crawford, he said.

There were no incidents between Crawford and the Cavaliers on Tuesday.

Notes: Memphis plays at Indiana on Wednesday. ... G Tarence Kinsey started in place of West and scored 11 points. ... The Cavaliers play eight of their next 10 on the road. Cleveland is 18-10 away from home.



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