LeBron returns to starting lineup vs. Suns after 2-week absence
After a two-week absence, LeBron James was back in the Cleveland lineup when the Cavaliers met the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
The four-time MVP had taken time off to rest his sore left knee and lower back.
"Obviously we're happy to have him back," Cavaliers coach David Blatt said before the game. "He's a very big part of our team, a dominant player in the NBA. I would just caution to be fair with him, he hasn't played competitive basketball for eight games, and that's not a normal thing for LeBron."
Cleveland went 1-7 in James' absence and had lost five in a row going into the game against the Suns. The Cavaliers fell to 19-19 and are sixth in the Eastern Conference.
James practiced with the team on Monday, then made a quick trip to Texas to cheer on Ohio State in the college football national championship game. He said he got back to Phoenix at 12:30 a.m.
Monday was the first time he had practiced since his layoff.
At the morning shootaround, James said he felt "a little sore, a little tight, which I figured."
"I haven't done no basketball as far as live drills in two weeks," he said, "so my body's a little sore but not hurting."
James said that sitting and watching the Cavaliers struggle "was the most difficult thing I've gone through."
The team was six games above .500 when he shut it down.
"We've got to approach every game with a sense of urgency," James said. "I hated the fact we were playing some pretty decent ball when I went out. We lost a lot of games while I was out."
Blatt said he wanted to limit James Tuesday night in the low 30-minute range "if that."
"I'm sure like any other human being it will take him a little bit of time to find his normal rhythm," Blatt said, "but I know he'll go out there and give us everything he's got."
Veteran forward Shawn Marion also returned for the Cavaliers after missing two games with a left hip strain.
It was the first time that James played with recently acquired guard J.R. Smith and center Timofey Mozgov.
"We're still kind of in a flux," Blatt said, "but it's a heck of a lot better having those guys (James and Marion) out there.