James not too bent over elbow

MVP emerges from full practice feeling just fine

Had only one MRI
By Duane Rankin
Globe Correspondent / May 7, 2010

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Hit a deep 3-pointer from the right wing.

Swish again.

Canned another long-range shot from the left wing.

Laughing and bouncing with energy while attempting shots from the twilight zone, LeBron James and his famous injured right elbow looked fine at yesterday’s practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts.

“It felt good,’’ James said. “Didn’t flare up at all.’’

How good it really is will be better gauged tonight when the Cavaliers face the Celtics in Boston with their Eastern Conference semifinal series tied at one game apiece.

“He’s a warrior,’’ said Cleveland center Shaquille O’Neal. “He’s going to play through it.’’

Although his spirits seem high, James hates the fact that he’s hurt now.

“For the most part, the whole season I was healthy, and if I had to play all 82 games, I would have,’’ said James, whose treatment for the strain and bone bruise has been bone stimulation, icing, rest, and keeping the elbow elevated. “To have an injury at this point in the season, where it may slow you up a little bit? It [stinks] but it’s part of the game. Nobody feels sorry for me or for our team. You move on.’’

James said the injury might not heal until the offseason, but he realizes he must play through it — and play well — if the Cavaliers are going to win this series.

“You want to be conscious about it, but at the same time, I’ve got to be able to pull through it and find a way to help the team no matter if it’s hurting or not,’’ James said.

“It doesn’t change my approach, but if you’re dribbling up and down the court and you can feel it twinge or you feel it lock up, it’s going to stop you from doing some things you usually would be able to do.’’

Like dunking — with authority.

Which James hasn’t done in this series.

“I want to be smart about things,’’ said James, who had 24 points in the Cavs’ Game 2 loss after going for 35 in their Game 1 win. “I don’t want to go up there doing all that crazy dunking on the rim where it may aggravate my elbow. At the end of day, it is 2 points.’’

The Cavaliers are looking to help their two-time NBA MVP.

“His elbow has nothing to do with our team defense,’’ O’Neal said. “Everybody has to do their part.’’

After much confusion about the number of MRIs James has had, he and the Cavaliers cleared things up yesterday.

“According to the TV, I’ve had about 50,’’ James said, smiling. “ ‘LeBron has another MRI today scheduled. Has another when we get to Boston.’ I’ve only had one. I’ve only needed one.’’

James had the MRI April 25 — two days before Game 5 of the first-round series against Chicago. Cleveland closed out the Bulls in that game, with James shooting a free throw lefthanded near the end the game because of the pain in his right elbow.

“Ain’t much more [the doctors] can talk to me about it,’’ James said. “It is what is it as this point. Only rest helps.’’

He got plenty of rest this week. The Cavaliers did only film work Tuesday and didn’t practice Wednesday.

“Just rehabbed and made sure I’m trying to get it stronger,’’ James said. “Any time you get a little bit of rest, it’s great to have.’’

James, along with reserve forward Anderson Varejao (back spasms), was cleared for contact in yesterday’s practice.

“I was able to go through the whole practice,’’ James said. “All contact and didn’t feel it one time, so that’s a good sign.’’

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