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Sunday, April 11, 2010
LeBron to sit out vs. Magic news services

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James missed his third straight game for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are putting rest ahead of their record as the NBA playoffs near.

Coach Mike Brown decided to sit James and starting forward Anthony Parker for the team's regular-season home finale Sunday against the Orlando Magic. Brown also might keep James out of the lineup Wednesday night when the Cavs close their regular season at Atlanta.

"We've talked about it as a staff and there's a chance that could happen," Brown said.

Brown said center Shaquille O'Neal has not yet received medical clearance to play. O'Neal has been out since tearing a thumb ligament Feb. 25 and undergoing surgery. The team is hoping he might return before the playoffs, but time is running out.

"He still has not been cleared, which I'm sort of hoping is soon," Brown said. "He says he's going to be, but he's not the doctor so we have to wait."

Starters Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison were expected to play against the Magic after sitting one game.

Cleveland has the league's best record at 61-19, but Brown is more concerned about getting James past a few bumps and bruises and getting his team to improve its defense before the postseason.

"We have not been good," Brown said. "Guys have been getting to the paint and scoring on us at will and shooting jump shoots at will."

Brown wants his team to regain its defensive intensity for the first round, when the Cavs will play Toronto or Chicago.

"Hopefully we can get to the point where it gets better in these last two games so we have a sense of where we need to be going into the playoffs," Brown said.

Also at Sunday's game, Magic center Marcin Gortat of Poland paid tribute to his homeland's president, who was killed along with 95 others in a plane crash in Russia. Gortat wrote the number of the fatal flight on his sneakers before the Magic played the Cleveland Cavaliers and wrote President Lech Kaczynski's name on the tape around his wrist.

"It's very sad," Gortat said. "There were a lot of people putting our country on the right path to become one of the strongest and most powerful countries in Europe. Obviously, we pray for them."

Kaczynski and dozens of political, military and religious leaders were killed in the crash. They were traveling to Russia to honor 22,000 Polish officers slain by the Soviet secret police in 1940.

Gortat's father, Janusz, is a retired Army officer who knew Kaczynski before he became president in 2005. Gortat, who learned of the crash through multiple text messages from family and friends in Poland, said he knew "two or three" of the dignitaries who died.

"It's a tough loss for all of us," he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.