INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) – First, Mo Williams. Then, Delonte West.
With the speed in which Cleveland starting point guards are dropping with injuries these days, it’s no wonder Daniel Gibson was a little skittish after practice.
“I need to stay away from those two guys,” Gibson said.
The Cavaliers’ backcourt woes worsened Friday when the team learned that West broke his left ring finger in Thursday night’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers. West’s injury to his shooting hand came in his first start since replacing Williams, who could miss up to six weeks for the Eastern Conference leaders after spraining his left shoulder in a game Tuesday against Toronto.
West will miss Saturday’s game against Oklahoma City, but the Cavs do not yet know how long he will be sidelined. Doctors need a few days for the swelling to go down before they can complete their evaluation.
West fractured his finger while scrambling after a loose ball in the fourth quarter of the Cavs’ victory – their second over the defending NBA champions in less than a month.
Gibson, whose minutes had been cut lately, will take over point guard duties until West returns. Gibson normally runs the point for Cleveland’s scout team.
“The last couple weeks, I’ve been hoping to catch some minutes and it looks like now I got my wish,” Gibson said. “I just want to go out there and have fun. That’s going to be my biggest thing, just enjoy the moment. You get these opportunities and when they come you just want to take advantage of them.”
Gibson’s time had waned mostly because of his shaky defense and Brown’s preference to have bigger guards on the floor. Despite his defensive limitations, Gibson leads the league in 3-point accuracy (48 percent) and has averaged 5.6 points in 37 games off the bench.
Cavs coach Mike Brown said Gibson will get help from LeBron James and Anthony Parker.
“We may have to do it by committee,” said Brown, who said there are other factors to consider. “One, is how long is he (West) going to be out for? The second one is, knock on wood, what if Gib goes down? Nobody thought that Delonte would go down in the game after Mo.
“We have capable ballhandlers.”
The club is expected to add another one on Saturday by signing Cedric Jackson, from their affiliate in the NBA Development League, to a 10-day contract. Jackson, who played at Cleveland State, is averaging 14.7 points and 7.6 assists for the BayHawks.
Gibson’s objectives are to take care of the ball, run Cleveland’s offense and not force shots.
“The best thing about this team is I don’t have to go out there and try to do something amazing,” he said. “We have LeBron, Shaq, AP (Parker). We have a lot of guys on the floor capable of doing big things. So what I have to do out there is just go out and be solid. That’s my main focus – go out and play great defense, keep guys motivated and make a couple shots easier for my teammates.
“I played point guard in college so now I get the opportunity to play it at the highest level.”
West’s start on Thursday was his first this season. He scored just three points, but added four rebounds, three assists and two blocks in nearly 43 minutes. He also guarded Kobe Bryant down the stretch, and with some double-team help, did a decent job on the Lakers superstar.
“The way the game went was kind of how Delonte’s game is,” said Brown. “He’s a tough, take-what-the-defense-gives-you type of guy. That’s how we play and that’s what you like. He stepped up and hit a big 3 for us late in the game. I was a little worried because I didn’t want to play him too many minutes but I got him just enough rest in the first half that I ran him the whole second half.
“He played a good game for us.”