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Cleveland Cavaliers

Irving fractures jaw, will play with protective mask

By Jason Lloyd Published: December 15, 2012
Irving hands on head
Cavs guard Kyrie Irving suffered a fractured jaw in Friday's game against the Bucks. He is expected to play Saturday, but will wear a protective mask. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)


NEW YORK: Kyrie Irving had a few good laughs the last couple of weeks making fun of Tristan Thompson's gaudy facemask. Now he has one of his own.

Irving has a fractured bone in his jaw and will wear a protective mask for the foreseeable future, joining teammates Thompson and Tyler Zeller as the three masked bandits.

"It's kind of ironic. I was making fun of Tristan and his straps, now I'm wearing a black facemask," Irving said. "Go figure."

Irving was injured in Friday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks when his face bounced off the court in the first quarter. He remained in the game, but a CT scan taken at the Cleveland Clinic following the game revealed the fracture. 

Irving did not travel with the team to New York so he could be fitted with the mask. he arrived around 4:45 p.m. and said he only got about four hours of sleep. Because of the fast turnaround, there wasn't enough time to make the traditional clear mask, leaving Irving to wear a black version that makes him look like Batman.

"I look like the Dark Knight with it on," Irving said. That's what they're calling me in the locker room right now, the Dark Knight."

All joking aside, this is yet another injury in an ever-growing list of ailments that have plagued Irving, the reigning Rookie of the Year who has played in 64 of a possible 90 games over his first two seasons.

Irving was playing in his third game Friday since returning from a fractured left index finger, which cost him 11 games. He missed the Cavs' summer league with a fractured bone in his right hand and last season suffered a shoulder injury and a concussion.

Cavs coach Byron Scott, however, continues to dismiss any concerns that Irving could be injury prone.

"The one last night, you're going to the basket and sometimes you get hit, you're off balance. That's something you can't help," Scott said. "The only one that I see that was really a problem was the one that he did in Vegas because that was kind of self-inflicted. But it didn't cause him really to miss any time. This one is not going to cause him to miss any time as well. Other than that, I don't see him as being, as people would say, injury-prone or anything like that." 

Irving said he isn't concerned or frustrated with the mounting injuries. He has now fractured three bones in roughly the last six months, but dismissed them with a simple, "I'm good."

Irving said he isn't in pain and the jaw doesn't really hurt; the mask is simply precautionary.

The Cavs will face a Knicks team that owns the best record in the Eastern Conference and also leads the league in both 3-pointers made and attempted. The Knicks have shot 641 3-pointers -- 44 more than any other team in the league.

Scott watched two of the Knicks' games this season, victories against the Heat and Lakers, and came away impressed with the way they move the ball.

"The open man gets the ball. There's nobody on that team that's selfish, they all just pass the ball," Scott said. "Normally they've got three or four shooters out there, so it's like pick your poison. With the acquisitions that they made, I think they definitely are a team that has to be dealt with."

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