Cavs Fighting for Life

Larry Hughes' heart told him one thing. His mind and body told him another.

Hughes said that while sitting on the sidelines with a hurting left foot during the Cleveland Cavaliers' 75-72 loss Tuesday, he believed that if he had played he could have done something to help his team.

Oddsmakers have made San Antonio -3 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 176 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 57% of bets for this game have been placed on San Antonio -3 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

``It's a point where you want to be out there and you want to be in the mix but if you're out there I probably couldn't have gave much,'' he said Wednesday. ``It's just a fact, really.''

The Game 3 loss put the Cavs down 0-3 to the San Antonio Spurs.

Hughes, who has plantar fasciitis and a tear in his foot, said he wanted to play but knew that the ``running and the cutting and the stopping was just too much.''

Hughes has been bothered by the foot and was hobbled during the first two games of the NBA finals. He said it's yet to be decided whether he'll play Thursday to try to help the Cavs avoid a sweep.

``I really couldn't put percentages on it,'' Hughes said. ``Because I am taking it day-to-day and I am doing treatment. Same as I was doing while I was playing. So it's just a matter of how we feel as a team and what's the best way for us to win a game.''

Hughes, who described the pain as running barefoot on concrete and said it's ``like I have no cushion,'' said that the game off helped.

``I'm feeling better,'' he said. ``Obviously, without the pounding, it's definitely going to feel better.''


LATE-NIGHT STUDYING: Tony Parker learned all about championship basketball while most of his countrymen were sleeping.

The San Antonio point guard said Wednesday he used to wake up at 3 a.m. while growing up in France to watch the Chicago Bulls play in the NBA finals. That helped Parker, who made his NBA debut at 19, get a feel for the league long before he played in it.

``You learn a lot watching that,'' Parker said. ``When I first came in the league, a lot of people were surprised by my knowledge about the history of the game. You can ask me any question and I'll try to answer it the right way because I watched a lot of tapes and a lot of games.''

He often did it without permission. Asked if he had to get his parents' OK to stay up so late, Parker said: ``I didn't tell them. I was sneaking and watching them.''

Parker recalled that Michael Jordan was the NBA finals MVP when the Bulls won all of their six championships. Tim Duncan has been the MVP in all three San Antonio victories, but Parker is playing well enough that he may beat out Duncan for the award this time.

And if he does?

``That would be unbelievable,'' Parker said. ``I still think Timmy is going to get it because he's our franchise and he's a superstar. But if they want to change, why not?

``I'm joking. But still, there's one more game, and if we win the championship, I'll be very happy with that. And if it happened, I'd be the first one to be very happy.''


BILL WHO? In a room filled with NBA legends that included Bill Russell, Julius Erving, Bob Lanier and Bill Walton, it was Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao who received the loudest applause.

Maybe that was because the room was filled with Cavaliers fans born years after those greats had already hung up their sneakers.

The legends, along with a few Cavaliers players, gathered at the west side Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland to dedicate a new Learn and Play center. It's the 174th center created by the NBA and the sixth in northeast Ohio.

The league helped renovate the center and provided laptop computers, educational software and thousands of books. NBA commissioner David Stern and Cavaliers forward Drew Gooden grabbed a couple books to read with some youths.

``All of this is for you because we know you have dreams to be somebody,'' Lanier told the children.


GROWING PAINS: LeBron James may have to chalk up this trip to the finals as an educational experience. He wouldn't be the first superstar to do so.

It took four trips for Hall of Famer Julius Erving, who won the NBA title in 1983 with the Philadelphia 76ers after losing three times in the finals.

``It's the first time for the franchise, period,'' Erving said. ``So I think it's a learning experience for everyone involved with the franchise even though they've got management and coaching staff who've got championship experience.''

Erving could tell by listening to the news conference after Game 3 on Tuesday night that the Cavaliers still need some educating.

``I heard more of a defense of what everybody was doing,'' Erving said. ``Everybody was kind of defending their own position. Everybody was saying, 'I did what I needed to do.' It's not really about what I need to do. It's about what we need to do.''

Hall of Famer Bill Walton, who won NBA titles with Portland (1977) and Boston (1986), said the Cavaliers have a long way to go mentally.

``San Antonio has been the smarter team and Cleveland has to learn to play on the mental level of the championship teams,'' Walton said.

He also said James needs a better supporting cast.

Walton wouldn't count the Cavaliers out to at least make the series interesting, recalling how Seattle, trailing 0-3 in the 1996 finals came back to win two games against the Chicago Bulls.

``They are learning how hard it is to be the champions and how much of your life it takes,'' Walton said. ``They are realizing how much further they have to go.''

By: Marc Young - - Email Us

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