C's Down Cavs and Rookie LeBron

December 19, 2004

CLEVELAND - Eric Snow served a one-game suspension last night, missing the Cavaliers' game against the Celtics at Gund Arena and forfeiting $54,000 (1/90th of his $4.875 million salary this season). The punishment stemmed from a confrontation between Snow and Cleveland coach Paul Silas during the second quarter of a game Thursday against the Detroit Pistons.   After Snow failed to bring the ball across midcourt in eight seconds against the Pistons, Silas immediately removed the point guard from the contest. Snow protested the benching and had words with Silas. As a result, Silas took an even stronger stance and sent Snow to the locker room for the remainder of the first half. Snow returned with the team for the second half, but remained on the bench.

"He is just on suspension for a game and that's all I'm really going to say about it," said Silas, before his Cavaliers lost to the Celtics, 114-107, in overtime. "I'm not going to say anything else. Hey, we go on, life goes on. No grudges. No nothing. It's over and done with as far as I'm concerned." It was the first time in his 10-year career that Snow has been suspended. The incident appears out of character for Snow, who has always been considered a

model NBA citizen and teammate. He is vice president of the NBA Players Association. Cleveland fans also take great pride in the play of the Canton, Ohio, product. Snow has not spoken to the media about the incident.

The suspension left the Cavaliers essentially lacking a backup point guard. When starter Jeff McInnis took a brief rest in the Detroit game, replacement Dajuan Wagner went 0 for 5 with two turnovers in four minutes. "I don't know what's going on between [Snow] and Coach," said LeBron James. "I know [Snow] is not playing [against Boston], but as a unit we can't let that affect us. Being more of a veteran team than we were last year, I don't think it's going to hurt us that much. It's a key missing part of our unit, our chain. We're already missing Tractor [Robert Traylor, with a fractured finger], so now we're missing our backup point guard. We're going to lose him for the game, but it's not emotional or nothing like that for the team."

Dial-up problems

The Celtics are shooting just 31 percent from 3-point range, a statistic in years past that would have concerned coaches considering how much the team relied on the long-distance shot. Last season, Boston shot 35 percent from 3-point range. But current coach Doc Rivers doesn't worry about it. "It's not that important," said Rivers. "I don't mind a three when it's open. Sometimes we do still settle for it. That's probably a residual from the past. I prefer the three the old-fashioned way, you know, when you drive and you get hit and you make the shot and you make the free throw. Those are better threes. But we do have players who can shoot threes and I'd never take that away from them.

They should feel free and shoot them as long as they're responsible shots, uncontested shots."

With the exception of Paul Pierce and Ricky Davis, the Celtics' strongest 3-point shooters from last season have struggled. While Pierce had risen from 30 percent to 32 percent and Davis had held at 37 percent, Jiri Welsch had fallen from 38 percent to 33 percent and Walter McCarty had dropped from 37 percent to 27 percent. The Celtics were 7 for 21 from long distance in last night's win. "We've been streaky from that [3-point] line, but we do have 3-point shooters and I would say most of them are better than what they've shot," said Rivers. "Even though at times, we don't make the threes, it still makes it dangerous. It stretches the floor for us to get to the basket."

Count him in

When he plays a lot of minutes, Raef LaFrentz can be seen favoring his surgically repaired right knee. But the power forward, who appears more comfortable and more athletic with each passing contest, said not to worry, even when the Celtics play the second of back-to-back games as they did last night. Although LaFrentz logged 34 minutes Friday night against Utah and was noticeably sore afterward, he pronounced himself ready to go for Cleveland. "It's sore after games," said LaFrentz, who added another 31 minutes last night, contributing 12 points and 10 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double. "The last time I came out on the floor [against the Jazz], it was sore, but no

problems. Back-to-backs, it's responded. Practice, it's responded. Some nights I play 25 minutes and I don't really feel it." Rivers doesn't worry about LaFrentz, figuring he would hear from the player or medical staff if it was anything more than soreness typical from playing in the NBA.

"I don't pay attention [to his minutes] at all," said Rivers. "The bottom line is if he plays 30 or 35 and it's going to wear down, it's going to wear down. But he's been looking great. I just go by his gait. I look how he runs. I don't think it's the total minutes, I think it's the straight minutes that hurt him, when we play him 11 or 12 straight minutes, I think you can see it hurting. He can play 40 minutes if it's in eight-minute increments. So far, that's what I've been noticing and that's the way I try to play him. I try not to extend his minutes." Al Jefferson suffered a slightly pulled groin against Utah, but was cleared to  play last night. He got in for 22 minutes, finishing with 8 points and two rebounds.

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