CLEVELAND – At least this one ended before any of the Cavaliers got seriously hurt.
Without seven players going in, Cleveland saw two more go down Wednesday night during a 109-104 exhibition loss to the Washington Wizards at Quicken Loans Arena.
The two bits of good news are none of the injuries are serious and this game, like all preseason contests, will be quickly forgotten.
“I’m OK with taking some lumps,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. “Part of it is we’re not where we need to be.”
More vital still, the Cavaliers (3-1) didn’t have who they needed to have.
With LeBron James at home due to flu-like symptoms and Mo Williams resting a sore groin, the Cavaliers started Jawad Williams and Daniel “Boobie” Gibson along with Shaquille O’Neal, Anderson Varejao and Anthony Parker.
Gibson, who had four of Cleveland’s whopping 22 turnovers, left the game with a bruised tailbone with 3:30 to go in the third period, while Varejao didn’t play in the second half due to a left wrist contusion.
“I think they’re fine,” Brown said.
Like James, Coby Karl and Darnell Jackson stayed at home with flu-like symptoms, while Danny Green missed his third straight game with a right glute contusion.
Delonte West, who returned to the team Tuesday after missing a week while attending to personal matters, attended the team’s shootaround Wednesday morning at Cleveland Clinic Courts, then returned to the facility in the evening to work out again.
Leon Powe, who won’t be ready to play until mid-February, continues to rehabilitate from offseason knee surgery, meaning seven of the 20 players in camp were not available at the start of the game.
By the end of the night, the Cavaliers were minus six players – James, Williams, West, Varejao, Gibson and Powe – who figure to be in their 10-man rotation late in the regular season.
Washington power forward Antawn Jamison also left the game with a sprained right shoulder with 4:33 left in the first quarter – he’ll undergo an MRI today, but he doesn’t think the injury is serious – on a night when players weren’t the only things dropping like flies.
The Wizards, who have added Mike Miller (24 points) and Randy Foye (21 points, 5 assists) to what should be a very dangerous offensive team, shot 55.1 percent from the field (38-of-69) and connected on eight of their 12 3-point attempts.
“We were really bad defensively,” Brown said. “We pride ourselves on being a physical defensive team. Tonight I saw more layups and easy shots than (at any time) since I’ve been here.”
Washington (3-2) also got 18 points from Gilbert Arenas and 16 from Andray Blatche, while Jawad Williams led the Cavaliers with 21.
“Offensively, we had some good moments,” said Brown, whose team scored 60 points in the first half. “But for the most part, we had way too many turnovers. You can’t play the game of basketball and turn the ball over the way we did tonight.”
The Cavaliers started the game by making nine of their first 13 3-point attempts, but then hit just three of their last 11.
Cleveland did get 12 points from Jamario Moon, who hit three 3-pointers after missing two games due to the removal of two wisdom teeth, and eight assists from 5-foot-10 point guard Andre Barrett, but Brown was not pleased with his team’s defensive effort or execution.
“No matter what day it is or what the score is,” he said, “you can at least be a good defensive team and not turn the ball over.”
Go West, young man
West was given the option by general manager Danny Ferry to work out Wednesday night at Cleveland Clinic Courts in Independence or in the upstairs practice gym at The Q. He chose Cleveland Clinic Courts.
West, who was fined for an unexcused two-day absence at the start of camp, will travel with the team for a Friday exhibition game in San Antonio and a Saturday contest in Dallas, but Brown is uncertain when the guard will play.
“I’m literally taking it one day at a time,” Brown said. “I’m focusing on the guys that are here. I haven’t thought much about it.”
West, who has yet to play in the preseason, has bipolar disorder and faces a Nov. 20 court date in Maryland on weapons charges. He will likely be suspended by the NBA when his legal matters are concluded.
The agent for center Darryl Watkins called the Cavaliers very early in training camp to inform them his client had been offered guaranteed money to play in Serbia, but Watkins, who has no chance of making Cleveland’s team, ultimately chose to stay.
The 6-foot-11, 258-pound Syracuse product, who played nine games for the Sacramento Kings in 2007-08 before spending last season in China, had a daughter, Tian, born in Houston on Aug. 14 and plans to play in the NBA Development League.
“I didn’t want to leave for eight months and be overseas and not be able to see her,” Watkins said of his daughter.
The Cavaliers will decide after practice today what players to leave behind for their two-game trip to Texas. Cleveland will depart this afternoon.
Washington guard DeShawn Stevenson, who has had some playoff run-ins with James, blew kisses to the crowd after making a first-half 3-pointer.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or .
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