The Cleveland Cavaliers pushed their winning streak to 10 in their last game. They’ll have to try for 11 in a row without their starting center.
Ilgauskas injured his left ankle in Wednesday’s 101-93 victory at Philadelphia, limping off the court with 9:39 left, although X-rays were negative. The Cavs, though, said he will sit out Friday’s contest.
The team called it a moderate sprain but did not provide a timetable on Ilgauskas’ return in its statement and said his status will be “updated as appropriate.”
Ilgauskas is averaging 14.8 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds, and his absence could make it considerably tougher for Cleveland to match a team record for consecutive wins. The Cavs set the mark during the 1988-89 season, but this run has been especially dominant.
Cleveland has won by an average of 20.2 points during its streak. The most recent victory was the only one during the run that hasn’t come by double digits.
Besides Ilgauskas, the Cavs will also be without valuable reserve guard Daniel Gibson, who’s scoring 9.4 points per game this season but has averaged 13.8 in his last four games. Gibson will miss the next two weeks with a sprained left big toe suffered Tuesday against Toronto.
“It could affect us a little bit,” LeBron James said. “Guys have to step up. One thing we have is a lot of depth on our bench. We could continue this run if we stay injury free.”
Gibson’s injury meant more minutes for starter Mo Williams in Wednesday’s game, and he responded with a season-high 27 points, going 11-of-16 from the field. Starter Delonte West and reserves Wally Szczerbiak and Sasha Pavlovic will also see increased playing time with Gibson sidelined.
Williams is second on the Cavaliers with 15.7 points per game, but Cleveland will again be leaning heavily on its superstar Friday night with Gibson and Ilgauskas out.
James, second in the NBA with a 26.8-point average, has raised his game at the right time. He’s averaging 28.3 points over the last three contests, making 50.9 percent from the field and 40.0 percent of his 3-pointers.
James scored a team-leading 29 points Wednesday and has averaged 28.4 points in 17 career games versus Philadelphia.
Wednesday’s loss was Philadelphia’s seventh in nine games. The 76ers (9-13) have given up an average of 98.9 points over that stretch after limiting opponents to 93.0 during a 7-6 start.
Philadelphia is also one of the league’s worst offensive teams at 94.3 points per game, compared to the Cavaliers’ 103.9.
The 76ers did get season highs in points from Andre Iguodala (27) and Louis Williams (22) on Wednesday. Andre Miller, who leads the team with 15.8 points per game, added 22 - the third time in five games he’s reached the 20-point mark.
Forward Elton Brand, however, is struggling in his first season with Philadelphia, averaging a career-low 16.2 points. Brand returned Wednesday after missing two games with a strained right hamstring and scored six points on 3-for-11 shooting.
“I’m not at 100 percent, but you do what you can to help the team win,” Brand said.
The Cavaliers have won five of the last six meetings with the 76ers and three of the previous five at Quicken Loans Arena.