Star's Focus Was 'Tone,' Not Tumble

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 23, 2007

CLEVELAND, April 22 -- LeBron James threw a scare into the Quicken Loans Arena crowd Sunday when he went down clutching his left ankle after landing on the foot of Washington Wizards center Etan Thomas in the third quarter. He was able to walk to the bench and, following a timeout, he returned to shoot a free throw.

"It is definitely going to hurt a lot [Monday], I know," said James, who finished with 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting with nine rebounds and seven assists in 44 minutes. "This isn't the first time having an ankle sprain. The best thing about it is, we don't play until Wednesday so I get enough time to get a little bit of rest and see how it feels. But I had no intention of not coming back. First game of the playoffs, and we've got to set the tone. If I was able to limp on it, I was going to be in there."

Bad Contact Info

Wizards forward Darius Songaila, who had 12 games of playoff experience dating from the two seasons he spent with the Sacramento Kings in 2004 and '05, said he entered the series thinking that referees tend to allow more contact in the playoffs.

And then Songaila went out and picked up three first-half fouls in a little more than six minutes of action. Songaila ended up fouling out late in the fourth quarter and finished with eight points on 3-of-5 shooting in about 17 minutes of action.

"I thought the playoffs were more physical, but apparently they aren't," said Songaila, who was not foul prone during the regular season. "It was not what I expected today after all that talk, but it's just one game. Next game, I'll make adjustments to how the referees are calling the game and take a different approach."

The Wizards, who held a 16-12 edge in bench scoring Sunday, almost certainly will need heavy minutes and production out of Songaila if they are going to be competitive in the series.

Pregame Talk

Injured guard Gilbert Arenas was all over the arena before the game. He dropped by the Cavaliers' locker room to talk some trash, chatted with players from both teams on the floor during pregame warmups and watched the game from behind the team's bench.

Arenas also chatted it up with Cavaliers guard Eric Snow, who was wearing Arenas's signature sneaker, the Adidas Gil Zero.

Arenas declined to speak with reporters, saying, "This isn't about me."

Injured forward Caron Butler also joined the team in Cleveland and lightened the mood in the locker room before the game when he strutted in offering a formal greeting.

"Hi, I'm Caron Butler of the Washington Wizards," Butler declared as teammates laughed. "I'm an all-star."

After the game, Butler said his cast was going to be removed on Monday and repeated that he hopes to play in Game 3 on Saturday at Verizon Center.

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