- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2007

Caron Butler is scheduled to have the cast on his broken right hand removed either today or tomorrow, and the Washington Wizards All-Star forward hasn’t ruled out playing at some point during the first round of the playoffs.

Butler said he could play as soon as Game 3 of the Wizards’ best-of-seven series against the Cleveland Cavaliers as long as he is given medical clearance.

Not being able to help the Wizards as they dropped their opener 97-82 didn’t bode well with him.

“It was real tough,” Butler said. “Overall I thought they played a good game of basketball. We were right there for the whole game until the end. I just hate the feeling of helplessness you get sitting there. You have a feeling of helplessness watching your team go to war and battle.

“It’s like going to war and you don’t have a weapon. You’re just sitting back and watching the outcome. Gilbert [Arenas] and I kept talking about it. All you can really do is just urge them on.”

No fan of officiating

Wizards reserve forward Darius Songaila, who fouled out midway through the fourth quarter after playing just 16:49, expressed disappointment in the way the game was officiated.

“I thought playoffs were more physical, but apparently they aren’t,” said Songaila, who finished with eight points. “It wasn’t what I expected today after all the talk about how the playoffs were more physical. I’m disappointed. I guess I just have to make some adjustments to how the referees are calling the game.”

LeBron’s scare

Cavaliers star LeBron James went down with 8:03 left in the third quarter after landing on the foot of Wizards center Etan Thomas and rolling his left ankle.

James though, eventually stood up and hobbled back to the bench for a timeout, and he stayed in the game.

“It’s definitely going to hurt a lot tomorrow,” said James, who finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. “The best thing about it is we don’t play until Wednesday, so I have enough time to get a little rest and see how it feels. But I had no intention of not coming back.”

Teammate Larry Hughes did not have a good look at the play and said he did not think about losing the franchise player.

“That’s a big guy coming down at that angle,” Hughes said. “He is tough. I expected him to get up, and he got up. … He’s a big guy. His ankles are like my biceps. He has big ankles.”

Ilgauskas comes up big

Cavaliers 7-foot-3 center Zydrunas Ilgauskas was pivotal as Cleveland pulled away in the fourth quarter. Ilgauskas scored 11 points in the final period on 3-for-4 shooting.

“They went small, and we started going to me inside,” said Ilgauskas, who finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. “They did not double-team, so I scored.”

Ilgauskas, in his ninth NBA season, easily handled Thomas in the middle and displayed a nifty hook around 6-9 power forward Antawn Jamison. Wizards coach Eddie Jordan did not even try reserve 7-footer Brendan Haywood on Ilgauskas.

“I just thought the guys who were playing were playing hard and playing smart, so I’m playing those guys,” Jordan said. “I don’t care if they are 5-2.”

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