Darius Garland injured right thumb in loss to Pacers, sounds like he’ll be ‘hacked all season’
INDIANAPOLIS — The agony was plastered all over Darius Garland’s face. So was the frustration.
The season-long battle wounds keep piling up – and Garland is getting tired of the opponent’s excessive bullying.
“Just been hacked all season,” Garland said after Thursday’s 135-126 loss to the Indiana Pacers. “Nothing has changed. The physicality is not a factor at all. It is the whistle that is not blown at the right time when there is a foul, an obvious foul. Some of those things we should consider.”
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Garland’s latest injury came early in the fourth quarter. After taking a pass from teammate Donovan Mitchell on the right wing, Garland sprinted toward the paint and was hammered on the right hand by Indiana forward Oshae Brissett, who was trying to swipe the ball. Garland let out a scream and immediately clenched his right thumb before colliding with Indiana’s Jalen Smith and crumbling to the floor. When Garland stood up, he paced around for a little while, flexing his thumb repeatedly, trying to shake off the pain.
Despite staying in the game for the next two possessions, Garland was in obvious discomfort, staying away from the action and trying to protect the injury. That’s when Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff called timeout and the disappointed young point guard walked slowly to the end of Cleveland’s bench for further examination by coach Steve Spiro.
Garland came back in about three minutes later with his thumb wrapped. He did not score after the injury. He did not attempt a shot. He even uncharacteristically missed a pair of free throws with the Cavs trailing by seven in the final 40 seconds.
“It bothered me a lot,” Garland admitted. “I just tried to go out and compete as much as I could. The last two free throws I looked at JB and thought, ‘Ah, I really don’t want to shoot these.’ But I was down and just tried to make two. They didn’t go in. Everything hurt. I was playing with a twisted thumb. I couldn’t really do anything. I wasn’t going to be efficient with it. It was already throbbing and swelling that time.”
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Garland left the locker room with a bag of ice wrapped around his right hand, hoping the treatment would help with the swelling before a late-night flight to Chicago where the Cavs will play Saturday night. Garland’s status for that game is to be determined.
“Just take it day by day. I hope to be ready for Chicago, Garland said. “Gonna try to fight through it.”
Although there was no official diagnosis and further testing is expected, the Cavs left Indiana concerned about a potential absence, sources told cleveland.com. Now, the team in the midst of a three-game losing streak, having already been forced to use 16 different starting lineups in the first 36 games and may not have enough healthy bodies to practice Friday, will hold their breath and hope Garland avoided another one. significant damage.
During the season opener against Toronto on Oct. 19, the young point guard suffered a nasty eye injury that still doesn’t look fully healed. That night, Raptors swingman Gary Trent Jr. swept. Garland accidentally over the eye, causing a tear on the inside of his eyelid—an injury that temporarily affected Garland’s vision and sidelined him for the first few weeks, although there was no structural damage.
The shots to the face have not stopped. Garland estimates eight to the still-healing eye. Countless others to different areas.
The Cavs believe the increased physicality is purposeful — a result of opponents deciding it’s the only method to slow down the shifty, crafty and quick guard. Words like grab, bump and hold have been used by players and coaches in recent weeks. The overly physical hits have become so prevalent that Garland recently spoke of having a “target” on his back and joked about wearing protection.
“I told them I need a mask at this point or some glasses or something because it’s getting out of hand,” Garland said. “I’m just tired of being punched in the face. But I like the aggressive defense. It’s kind of a statement for me and my game. It’s super cool that people are just trying to tighten my shoelaces.”
Thursday does not qualify. It is not the same degree of recklessness. Nothing malicious. Just an opponent reaching in and trying to play on the ball. It wasn’t even a review — despite the Pacers considering a coach’s challenge before determining it wasn’t a pure rip-off.
Still, the result stings. Literally and figuratively speaking. And the accumulation of repeated penalties left the typically jovial and mild-mannered Garland exasperated after the game.
“The whole thing about the league taking care of the players, it seems like we’re not doing that much this year,” Garland said. “At least the way we did in previous years.”
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