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Pre-game Notes: Cavs at Oklahoma City Thunder

By George Thomas Published: December 13, 2009

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – J.J. Hickson found himself in a position Friday night that hadn’t been too familiar since late November – riding the bench. The second-year forward found himself there after just 30 seconds had passed in the third quarter as the Cavaliers struggled against the Portland Trail Blazers. The problem:  an inability to keep up with the Blazers’ dominating forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who seemed to score at will and from any place on the court. ‘’I pulled him out with 11:30 left in the third, I won’t hesitate to do it again,’’ Brown said. ‘’If he’s making a mistake but he’s playing hard, you have to live with the mistakes as long as they’re aggressive mistakes.’’ But Brown didn’t see anything aggressive in the way Hickson played against Portland. ‘’He didn’t make any physical adjustments on (Aldridge); he just continued to let him go where he wanted to.  He’s got to understand that can’t happen,’’ he said. And if he doesn’t?  Brown has little problem turning to Anderson Varejao, as he did Friday.  And although he doesn’t expect the 6-foot-10 Brazilian to breakout each time for 22 points and 10 rebounds, he knows that defensively he can rely on him to do what needs to be done.  At one point in Friday’s game, Varejao played for 23 consecutive minutes. ‘’Twenty three minutes straight is a long time, but not really for a guy like Andy,’’ he said.   ‘’His endurance is unique for his size.  His (footwork) is unique for his size. He’s capable of doing long spurts at a time.’’ Brown has no plans to remove Hickson from the starting lineup any time soon, primarily because he doesn’t want to fall into a trap; instead he’s looking to maintain some consistency.  He’s also willing to chalk Hickson’s problems up to growing pains, saying that the North Carolina State University product played off of adrenaline when he enjoyed his initial success. ‘’He’s been a young guy that’s all it is,’’ Brown said. Shaq in; Gibson out Shaquille O’Neal decided to play tonight despite suffering a left eye contusion in Friday night’s game. The 7-foot-3 center was examined at the Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute. ‘’Obviously the concern is if you get scratched there again, you can make it worse,’’ Brown said. ‘’It’s early in the season, if you do err, it doesn’t hurt to err on the side of being precautious.’’ O’Neal said the injury did affect his vision, but he started against the Thunder. Historic trio Only three players in league history have averaged 28 points or more through the first 21 games of a season at age 21 or younger. All – LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal and Kevin Durant – played in Sunday’s game. *tagline George M. Thomas can be reached at sportswriterabj@sbcglobal.net. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohiomm.com/thomas. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/CavsABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CavsABJ

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