CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James wasn’t around. His shoes were present.
Mike Miller, wearing a pair of James’ signature sneakers, made 5-of-5 3-pointers and scored 24 points, Randy Foye scored 19 in the fourth quarter and the Wizards handed the James-less Cavs their first loss of the preseason, 109-104 on Wednesday night.
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Foye finished with 21 points and took advantage of the Cavs’ depleted backcourt in the fourth. Cleveland was without guards Mo Williams (groin), Delonte West (personal problems) and Daniel Gibson, who injured his tailbone in the third quarter and did not return.
James stayed home to get rest after battling flu-like symptoms the past two days. He wasn’t the only Cavaliers player not feeling well as both forward Darnell Jackson and Coby Karl were also out with the flu. All three players were told to stay away from the arena so they wouldn’t infect others.
And, as a standard precaution, the three will be tested for the H1N1 virus, Cavaliers officials said.
The Wizards came in healthier but lost forward Antawn Jamison in the first quarter with a sprained right shoulder. He left the arena with his arm immobilized and will undergo an MRI on Thursday. Jamison was attempting to block a shot by Cavs’ center Zydrunas Ilgauskas when he got his arm bent back awkwardly.
“Antawn is pretty tough,” Wizards coach Flip Saunders said. “For him to be out an extended period of time is going to take a lot.”
Washington trailed 93-92 when Foye went on one-man tear. He scored on a reverse, converted a three-point play, assisted on Nick Young’s dunk and hit a jumper to put the Wizards ahead 101-93. Foye later put the game away by making six straight free throws in the final 16.1 seconds.
Jawad Williams scored 21 to lead the Cavaliers and Shaquille O’Neal added 13 in 19 minutes.
Miller came to Washington’s training camp sporting a pair of James’ shoe model, prompting guard DeShawn Stevenson to say “he got to get them out of here.” Stevenson and James have had heated battles in the past, including a postseason war of words two years ago that involved rappers Jay-Z and Soulja Boy.
“I think they understand now,” Miller said of his footwear choice. “I told them there’s no disrespect. They feel good on my feet.”
He has no plans to change.
“As of right now we’re keeping it the same until they make me,” Miller said.
That could be sooner than he thinks.
“That’s not going to fly,” Stevenson said. “We let it go today, but it’s not going to fly.”
And what if Miller doesn’t switch?
“We’ll have to jump him,” Stevenson said. “We might have to steal his shoes. I’m going to call the Nike rep even though I’m with Adidas. We have to get him off those shoes, especially in Cleveland.”
James has downplayed his feud with Stevenson, who doesn’t seem ready to let it drop.
“I take it seriously,” he said. “Not serious like hurt nobody or do anything stupid. I’m a competitor, I know he’s a competitor and they’ve been waxing us the last three years. But at the same time, we’ll do it with respect and not try to hurt nobody.”
Arenas, fined $25,000 by the NBA earlier this week for not making himself available to the media, looked quick and fully recovered after playing in just 15 games the past two seasons because of knee injuries.
O’Neal, who couldn’t work his two-man game with James out, still showed he can do a little bit of everything.
He scored 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the first half. O’Neal delivered two dunks, one a signature Shaq-attack, backboard-shaking number. O’Neal also drove the lane and flipped in a reverse layup.
On another sequence, he grabbed a rebound on the defensive end and led the fastbreak up the floor before sending a no-look underhanded pass to Anthony Parker.
“We didn’t have all our guys, but that’s no excuse,” O’Neal said. “We’ve got to keep working at it to get better.”