The Washington Wizards barely had time to get acquainted with Josh Howard before announcing on Tuesday their new arrival will miss the rest of the season after tearing a ligament in his left knee. Howard was hurt Monday in Washington's 101-95 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
It was just his fourth game with the Wizards since they acquired him from Dallas in a seven-player swap on February 13. Howard collided with Chicago's Flip Murray in the first quarter and stayed on the floor for a minute before he was assisted off the court. Howard started three games for Washington and averaged 14.5 points a game to help the Wizards go 3-1 since the trade, which sent Caron Butler to Dallas. "We're disappointed for Josh personally. He did an outstanding job," said Ernie Grunfeld, the Wizards president. "We feel bad for him. The guys will have to step up in his absence."
The loss of Howard leaves the Wizards with only 10 players on the active roster. Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton are suspended for the remainder of the season for bringing guns into the team's locker room. Elsewhere in Tuesday's action, LeBron James scored 20 points with 12 assists as the Cleveland Cavaliers ended a three-game losing run with a 105-95 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.
Antawn Jamison scored 18 points in his first start for the Cavaliers, but it was James who sealed the victory in the last two minutes - hitting a three-pointer and converting a three-point play as the Cavaliers held off New Orleans and their determined rookies Marcus Thorton and Darren Collison. Thornton and Collison combined for 59 points, including a club-record 23 from Thornton in the second quarter. Thornton scored a career-high 37 off the bench, keying a 40-point second quarter for New Orleans.
"The records mean something, but they would mean more if we had won," Thornton said. Collison, playing for the injured Chris Paul, scored 22 points and added 10 assists. It was Cleveland's first victory since the All-Star break, but James said the team's three consecutive losses should be kept in perspective. "There's 82 games in the regular season. You'll have ups and downs," James said. "We've had way more ups than downs. We have the best record in the Eastern Conference and one of the best records in the league.
"You can go two or three games where you don't win a game. That's not our worries." firstname.lastname@example.org