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James’s elbow woes a mystery

Associated Press / April 29, 2010

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LeBron James’s ambidexterity makes him special, perhaps the most skilled basketball player on the planet.

James can drive, dribble, and create with either hand. It’s not widely known that James writes with his left. He never shoots free throws that way. He did Tuesday night.

Bothered by a puzzling injury that numbs his elbow, James curiously launched and missed a free throw lefthanded in the closing seconds of Cleveland’s 96-94 playoff win over Chicago, adding some unexpected drama to the Cavaliers advancing to a second-round matchup against Boston.

James revealed afterward the elbow has been troubling him for weeks. He underwent treatment yesterday and is expected to have further testing before Saturday’s Game 1 against the Celtics.

X-rays and an MRI taken Monday showed no obvious structural damage, but clearly something is wrong with James’s elbow, which he has covered recently with a padded, protective sleeve.

“I don’t know, honestly, what’s going on with it,’’ James said after finishing one assist shy of a triple-double in the series-clinching Game 5 against the Bulls. “I’ve done tests to try and figure this thing out, but it almost feels like you hit your funny bone and it kind of numbs up for a little bit.’’

A Cavs spokesman said the team will provide a medical update after James is evaluated. The team did not practice yesterday, giving the puzzling injury another day’s rest.

Howard hit with fine
Even on a day off, Dwight Howard can antagonize officials enough to draw a penalty. The Magic center was fined $35,000 by the NBA for criticizing officials on his blog, the second time this season he’s been penalized for posting such comments. Howard was in chronic foul trouble and constantly complaining about officiating in the Magic’s series sweep over Charlotte. He fouled out in the last two games, played only 105 minutes and committed 22 fouls in four games. “I’m not looking to say anything to get myself in trouble with the league, but I just don’t see other star players getting called for fouls the way I get them,’’ Howard posted on his blog. “No star player in the league is outta games the way I am.’’ . . . At some point in the next few days, the Bulls will reveal coach Vinny Del Negro’s job status. After back-to-back 41-win seasons and first-round playoff exits, Del Negro at least got some public support from his players after the Bulls were eliminated by Cleveland, 4-1. Joakim Noah, who enjoyed a breakout season, said Del Negro “did a lot for me as a player.’’ Kirk Hinrich said the Bulls “had a loose group’’ and Del Negro “fit the bill for us.’’ Del Negro’s status is the most immediate issue for the Bulls to settle heading into an offseason when they’re poised to offer a maximum contract in what might be the greatest free agent market in NBA history . . . Kobe Bryant again is atop the list of the NBA’s most popular jerseys. Bryant remained No. 1 on the list released by the league. James was second followed by Celtics’ Kevin Garnett. The Lakers remained tops in team merchandise sales.

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