Cleveland played its first game without Ricky Davis at Indiana on Monday night, falling to the Pacers 95-85. Davis was the centerpiece of a six-player trade with the Boston Celtics earlier in the day.
Cleveland sent Davis and forwards Chris Mihm and Michael Stewart to the Celtics for reserve forwards Eric Williams, Tony Battie and center Kedrick Brown, all of whom are expected to be in uniform Wednesday.
Williams, in his ninth season, is averaging 11.6 points and 4.5 rebounds. Battie, in his seventh year, averages 5.9 points and 5.1 rebounds. Brown, in his third year, is averaging 5.2 points. However, the combined experience of the trio may be a calming influence on the young Cavs.
“This is going to help us because we brought some veterans in that have been in a winning situation and that’s the main thing,” said Cleveland coach Paul Silas, who had benched Davis in the fourth quarter of several games.
“We’ve got to get guys in that know how to win and guys that have been there before and understand.”
Houston has lost three straight, including Tuesday’s 92-75 setback to Minnesota. The Rockets shot just 38.8 percent (28-for-72) for the game, with Steve Francis serving as one of the main culprits.
The versatile guard has made just 29 of 90 shots in his last six games, but remains confident that he will snap out of the funk.
“I don’t know one player to ever play this game to make shots the whole time through the whole season,” Francis said. “There’s been times guys have missed shots for a week, maybe a day. Once they start falling, things will go up for us.”
STANDINGS (through Dec. 15): Rockets - 5th place, 1 1/2 GB, Midwest Division. Cavaliers - 7th place (tied), 12 1/2 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Rockets - Francis, 17.5 ppg and 5 apg; Yao, 10 rpg. Cavaliers - James, 18.1 ppg and 6.2 apg; Boozer, 10.2 rpg.
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 5; Cavaliers, 105-102. At Cleveland, Illgauskas scored 20 points on 8-for-17 shooting to lead the Cavaliers past the Rockets, who got 30 points from Maurice Taylor.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rockets - 5-7 on the road; Cavaliers - 6-5 at home.