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- Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (left index finger fracture), who has missed the last 11 games, will start in his first action since Nov. 18 at Philadelphia. Cleveland is 2-8 with the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year in its lineup and 2-9 with Irving in street clothes. “If I was worried about my hand, I wouldn’t be out there tonight,” he said. “I’m definitely feeling good and I’m ready for anything. Nothing is going to change about my game.” Irving is averaging 22.9 points and 5.6 assists — both team highs — this season.
- Cleveland coach Byron Scott has also changed his starting shooting guard, where C.J. Miles replaces Daniel “Boobie” Gibson. Small forward Alonzo Gee, however, will be guarding Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant. “The size difference between Boobie (6-foot-2) and Kobe (6-6) was just too much, so I’m going to give C.J. a shot and have Alonzo on Kobe,” Scott said. It is Miles’ first start since signing with the Cavaliers as a free agent over the summer.
- Los Angeles’ starting lineup is Bryant, point guard Chris Duhon, small forward Metta World Peace, power forward Jordan Hill, and center Dwight Howard. Hill, who continues to battle pain from a herniated disc, is making his initial start of 2012-2013 and takes the spot of Antawn Jamison. “We understand it’s still a young season, but it’s disappointing the way we’re playing,” Jamison said. “But the good news is the mistakes we’re making are correctable.”
- The Lakers continue to be without injured point guards Steve Nash (left leg fracture) and Steve Blake (abdominal surgery), and power forward Pau Gasol (left and right knee tendinitis). Nash said he expects to need “another two weeks” before returning to practice, then another week before he can play. Los Angeles’ other inactive is shooting guard Darius Johnson-Odom.
- Cleveland’s lineup consists of Irving, Miles, Gee, center Anderson Varejao, and power forward Tristan Thompson. The Cavaliers’ inactives are shooting guard Dion Waiters (left ankle sprain, bone bruise) and power forward Jon Leuer (NBA D-League assignment with Canton Charge). Waiters is sitting out his fifth straight game since being hurt on Dec. 1 against Portland.
– Brian Dulik