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Cavaliers' injured Irving insists on playing

The SportsXchange

As the season is nearing its end, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving is trying to make a late comeback.

Irving has missed the previous nine games and 10 of 11 with a sprained right shoulder. The 20-year-old injured his right shoulder on March 30.

He returned to the starting lineup against Philadelphia on Wednesday. He finished with nine points, three rebounds and four assists. He hopes to play in the final five games.

Irving said he wouldn't have been happy if the Cavs shut him down for the rest of the season.

"The thought did cross my mind," he said. "I would have been a little angry. I would have had to live with it."

Irving repeatedly told Cavaliers coach Byron Scott how much sitting on the bench was eating him up. Finally, Scott succumbed. Irving returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday against the 76ers.

"He just kept telling me how much it was eating him up to sit on the bench," Scott said. "He's a competitor. He wants to play. He wants to be out there with his teammates. The one thing I did tell him is that doesn't mean you're going to play the rest of the season. There are still some games I still might shut him down.

"I do want to see him get out there and enjoy being with his guys, being with his teammates and continue to get better as a basketball player. I think him sitting there watching has helped as well, but again we wouldn't do this if we thought there was a big-time risk."

Irving, the Cavaliers' leading scorer at 18.8 points, had no ill effects from his rigorous workout in Detroit on Tuesday.

"He says it feels really good," Scott said. "He said he's raring to go."

Scott wanted to limit Irving's minutes, which didn't thrill the rookie guard.

"I told him if everything goes well, we'll amp up his minutes a little bit more," the coach said. "I've got to trust my gut."

Cavs athletic trainer Max Benton and team physician Dr. Richard Parker both think Irving's shoulder is in better shape than it was when he came back for the San Antonio game April 3. That time, he ran into Spurs center DeJuan Blair and reinjured it.

Scott loves the fact that Irving wants to play.

"I love anybody that wants to compete no matter what the situation is," he said.

Other changes to the starting lineup were Manny Harris starting at shooting guard and Anthony Parker shifting from shooting guard to small forward.

Irving gets a day of rest before the Cavs host the Knicks on Friday.
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