LeBron rests again as Cavaliers await playoffs

LeBron James missed his third straight game for the Cleveland

Cavaliers, who are putting rest ahead of their record as the NBA

playoffs near.

Coach Mike Brown decided to sit James and starting forward

Anthony Parker for the team’s regular-season home finale Sunday

against the Orlando Magic. Brown also might keep James out of the

lineup Wednesday night when the Cavs close their regular season at

Atlanta.

“We’ve talked about it as a staff and there’s a chance that

could happen,” Brown said.

Brown said center Shaquille O’Neal has not yet received medical

clearance to play. O’Neal has been out since tearing a thumb

ligament Feb. 25 and undergoing surgery. The team is hoping he

might return before the playoffs, but time is running out.

“He still has not been cleared, which I’m sort of hoping is

soon,” Brown said. “He says he’s going to be, but he’s not the

doctor so we have to wait.”

Starters Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison were expected to play

against the Magic after sitting one game.

Cleveland has the league’s best record at 61-19, but Brown is

more concerned about getting James past a few bumps and bruises and

getting his team to improve its defense before the postseason.

“We have not been good,” Brown said. “Guys have been getting

to the paint and scoring on us at will and shooting jump shoots at

will.”

Brown wants his team to regain its defensive intensity for the

first round, when the Cavs will play Toronto or Chicago.

“Hopefully we can get to the point where it gets better in

these last two games so we have a sense of where we need to be

going into the playoffs,” Brown said.