Sat, Jan 01, 2005 - Page 20 News List

LeBron rests after injury

AMERICAN BASKETBALLThe Cleveland Cavaliers star fractured his left cheekbone and got a mild concussion after he was accidentally elbowed by Dikembe Mutombo

AP , CLEVELAND, OHIOAP, ATLANTA, GEORGIAAP, NEW YORKAP, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Vince Carter, right, of the Nets drives against Fred Jones of the Pacers during their game at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Thursday. Indian defeated New Jersey 96-83 as Carter led the Nets in their losing effort with 25 points.

PHOTO: AP

LeBron James will wear a mask to protect a broken bone in his face, but Cleveland Cavaliers coach Paul Silas said Thursday he hopes the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year won't miss any games.

James fractured his left cheekbone and got a mild concussion after he was accidentally elbowed by Houston center Dikembe Mutombo in the second quarter of the Rockets' 98-87 victory Wednesday.

James, who told Silas that he briefly lost consciousness after being hit, will be fitted with the protective mask once the swelling in his face goes down. The coach was relieved the injury wasn't more serious and thinks Cleveland's leading scorer will be back Monday at Charlotte.

"I am so happy. That's the best present I could have received," Silas said. "Your worst fear is that he's going to be out a long time. If they had to operate, he could have been out four to five weeks."

James, who turned 20 Thursday, was at home resting.

He was moving across the lane on defense when he ran into Mutombo, whose sharp elbows have dropped more than a few NBA players over the years.

James immediately fell to the floor, covered his eyes and kicked his feet in obvious pain while lying face down as play continued. When Houston scored, the officials stopped the action, and Cleveland's medical staff rushed out to help James, who had to be helped off the court as he held a towel against his head.

As he walked into the Cavs' locker room with a hooded sweat-shirt pulled over his head, James looked like a beaten boxer. Mutombo felt bad about what happened.

"I never saw him," Mutombo said. "The next thing I know -- Boom! He was laying on the floor. I hope it's not too bad."

James was coming off a 40-point performance in a win at Atlanta on Tuesday. He's averaging 25.2 points but had a career-low three points -- all on free throws -- with three rebounds and five assists before getting hurt Wednesday.

Ray Allen scored 20 points and Rashard Lee added 17 as the Seattle SuperSonics overcame the ejections of Jerome James and Danny Fortson to beat the Atlanta Hawks 94-79.

The Sonics improved to 21-6, including 10-3 on the road.

Official Bob Delaney ejected James after giving the center his first technical foul with 7:14 left in the third quarter. James, called for an offensive foul, appeared to use an expletive as he looked down at Delaney.

With 6:33 remaining in the fourth quarter, Fortson complained about contact on Seattle's offensive end and was tossed by Delaney.

The Hawks, who dropped to an Eastern Conference-worst 5-23, have lost eight of nine. Antoine Walker led Atlanta with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Seattle coach Nate McMillan called a timeout soon after James' ejection when the Hawks drew within 13 on Walker's tip-in. Allen responded with a 3-pointer from the right wing that began a 15-5 run that included a bank shot over Walker on a fast break.

Allen put the Sonics ahead to stay with a 3-pointer at the 4:32 mark of the first quarter. Reserve Nick Collison pulled down 11 rebounds for Seattle.

Pacers 96, Nets 83

In East Rutherford, New Jersey, Jermaine O'Neal scored 31 points to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 96-83 win over the New Jersey Nets, just hours after a judge ruled that he didn't have to serve the final 10 games of a suspension.

Jeff Foster added 16 points and a season-high 16 rebounds as the Pacers won their third straight game, matching their longest streak since the Nov. 19 brawl in Detroit that led to multiple suspensions.

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