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Published: Tuesday, 3/12/2013

Shoulder injury could end season for Cavs’ Irving

ASSOCIATED PRESS

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Kyrie Irving's dazzling skills as a point guard are undeniable. Kid can do it all.

His durability is debatable.

Irving could miss the next month — and maybe the rest of this season — with a sprained left shoulder, the latest injury to sideline the Cavaliers' All-Star guard, who has missed 29 games in his first two NBA seasons with injuries and could sit out 19 more in 2013.

Irving got hurt in a loss at Toronto on Sunday night, when he collided with Raptors rookie forward Jonas Valanciunas while trying to drive the baseline in the third quarter. Irving slammed his shoulder into the 257-pound Valanciunas and was knocked out of bounds.

X-rays following the game were negative, but an MRI taken Monday in Cleveland revealed a left AC (acromioclavicular) sprain. The Cavs project Irving to be out three to four weeks, but with just a little over a month left in the season, it's more likely the team will protect its best player and sit him the remainder of the season.

"We just have to wait and see what happens," Cavs coach Byron Scott said following practice. "I don't want to speculate and say, 'Hey, if he can get back he'll get back. If he can't, he can't.' We're just going to have to wait until it's completely healed and go from there."

This is nothing new to Irving or the Cavs. The 20-year-old missed 14 games — 11 with a broken finger and three with a hyperextended knee — earlier this season, and there was a point last week when Scott said it was possible the team would shut down Irving for the remainder of this season after he said his knee was still sore.

Last season, Irving missed four games with a concussion and 11 with a sprained right shoulder, but was still named the league's top rookie. During the summer, he broke his right hand when he punched a padded wall in frustration during a practice in Las Vegas

And while he has been somewhat brittle, Irving has also displayed some toughness by playing with a broken jaw this season. He wore a protective mask over the injury he sustained in a hard fall and didn't miss one game.

Despite the injuries, Scott doesn't believe his young star is fragile or injury-prone.

"He's still very young, and his body hasn't fully developed," Scott said. "I'm just not that concerned about it, to be honest with you. All the injuries that he has gotten have been legitimate injuries. It's not something that keeps recurring over and over again.

"From just what I saw last night with the little hip check, it was just an unfortunate foul that hit him right on the spot. "

Irving's injury should heal with rest, but if it doesn't, surgery would be an option.

On Sunday, Irving went down after running into Valanciunas, who was called for a blocking foul. Irving was examined on the bench by trainer Max Benton and stayed in the game to shoot free throws. Wincing in pain, he couldn't raise his left arm to take the foul shots, and after splitting a pair while using just his right, he headed to the locker room.

Irving was not available after practice. He was not seen at the team's training facility after the session was opened to media members.

Irving entered the league with some concerns about his health after he played just 11 games as a freshman at Duke because of a toe injury. Still, the Cavs selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, and he has been even better than expected.

Shaun Livingston will start for Irving, and Dion Waiters will get extended time at the point.



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