|Hughes vows to keep putting best foot forward|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 09 June 2007 11:48|
Standing still with a painful foot injury is one thing. Try covering Tony Parker.
Hughes didn't do that, or much of anything else, effectively in Game 1 of the NBA finals. And the Cavaliers don't know how much they're going to get from their starting point guard for the rest of the series.
But Hughes vows to keep trying, even as people wonder if the best place for him is the bench.
``I won't give up,'' he said. ``You have to tell me I can't play, tell me I'm really hurting the team.''
Hughes has been battling plantar fasciitis, which causes him pain along the bottom of his left foot, since the Eastern Conference finals. Though he hasn't missed any games, he's hardly supplied any offense on a team that's desperate to find some from players other than LeBron James.
Hughes hasn't reached double figures since he was hurt in Game 3 of the series against the Pistons, and was held to two points on 1-of-5 shooting in 23 minutes during the Cavs' 85-76 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.
``I feel I've been giving the team all I can give as far as just trying to be out there on the court, not trying to do too much,'' Hughes said. ``I think I need to be a little more aggressive, but the same time I really don't want to chance it and hurt the team. It's kind of a balance, trying to get my job done and also knowing there's a lot of things that I can't do.''
His problems weren't restricted to the offensive end. He was unable to keep up with the speedy Parker, who led the Spurs with 27 points.
Hughes hasn't been able to practice much since he was hurt, but he said he was feeling much better than he was during the conference finals. He felt good enough to skip a cortisone shot before Game 1 and has been trying to get by on rest, ice and Tylenol.
And if he can play, his teammates want him to try.
``I know that Larry, if Larry's 70 percent, he's still a great basketball player and still capable of doing a lot of things,'' reserve guard Daniel Gibson said. ``And I know that on this stage, he wants to be out here playing because it's a stage he's worked for his entire career to get to.''
Gibson has replaced Hughes as the Cavs' best perimeter player since the injury, and there are people who believe he should take Hughes' spot in the starting lineup as well.
Cavs coach Mike Brown was asked twice about it after Game 1 but said he wasn't considering a lineup change. But Hughes was on the bench for the entire fourth quarter, the Cavs' best period of the game.
``We're just going to keep monitoring him,'' Brown said, ``and if we feel like it's too much for him - like in the fourth quarter, I didn't go back to him at that time - then we'll sit him, whether it's our call, the doctor's call or his call.''
Hughes was second to James during the regular season with 14.9 points per game and was in double figures in each of Cleveland's first eight playoff games. And he's an excellent defensive guard, leading the NBA in steals two years ago and getting voted to the first team All-Defensive squad.
When he finally arrived in the NBA finals, he's been prevented from demonstrating all his talents.
``It's hard to blame anything for it,'' Hughes said. ``It just happens, so you have to come out and you have to adjust.''
Hughes isn't a great outside shooter, so the Spurs can help off him to double-team James, knowing Hughes may not have the quickness to get to the basket. And playing Parker is tough for anyone, let alone someone trying to do it on one good foot.
But the Cavs are confident they'll figure out some way to utilize Hughes.
``He had that same injury against the Pistons and I think we handled that series pretty well as far as managing his time and putting him out there on the floor in situations where he could be successful,'' Gibson said.
Hughes said Brown hasn't discussed a lineup change with him, but a move to the bench might not be the best idea, anyway. Hughes said it's tough to get started again once he stops, so it's probably easier for him to go right from warmups to starting the game than it would be to play well once he's been sitting.
He won't consider sitting out, unless Brown or someone else on the Cavs' staff tells him that he's hurting the team.
``I plan on sticking it out,'' Hughes said. ``I'm doing all I can to be out on the court and give this team anything I can.''