Cavs’ Thompson injures thumb, ending NBA playing streak
CLEVELAND (AP) — Tristan Thompson’s “Iron Man” streak is over. The Cavaliers’ run of bad luck isn’t ending.
Thompson sprained his right thumb Tuesday and will not play in Wednesday’s first-place showdown at Boston, ending his consecutive games played streak at 447 — a team record and the longest active stretch in the league. Thompson’s streak dated to Feb. 10, 2012, his rookie season.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue is starting Channing Frye in Thompson’s place as Cleveland and Boston battle for first place in the Eastern Conference and the No. 1 playoff seed.
A relentless rebounder, Thompson got hurt during the third quarter of Tuesday’s win over Orlando, and Thompson didn’t travel with the team. An MRI confirmed the sprain and Thompson will miss the matchup with the Celtics as well as Friday’s home game against Atlanta.
“He got it bent back going for a rebound,” Lue said.
The Cavs said Thompson’s status will be “updated as appropriate,” leaving the possibility he could miss more time as the regular season enters its final week. Thompson is averaging 8.1 points and 9.3 rebounds.
His injury is another tough blow for the defending champions, who have been forced to shuffle their lineups all season because of key injuries.
J.R. Smith missed nearly three months following thumb surgery; Kevin Love underwent a knee operation; Kyle Korver just returned after missing 11 games with a sore foot; and center Andrew Bogut broke his leg in the first minute of his debut with Cleveland, an injury that will be felt even more with Thompson out.
“It’s unfortunate. But we’ve been in this position all year long,” Lue said. “Guys gotta step up and be ready to play and we know that. And guys understand that. So we just gotta come together until we get Tristan back.”
Thompson continued to play after getting his thumb taped and finished with just two points and three rebounds against the Magic.
Cleveland recalled center Larry Sanders from its D-League affiliate in Canton. Sanders was out of the league for two years before the Cavs signed him on March 13, an addition they hope can fill their need for a rim protector.
Sanders has played just four minutes in two games for the Cavs, who have been keeping him in Canton to work on his rhythm and stamina.
Lue said Sanders, who earned a reputation as a shot blocker and defensive stopper during five seasons with Milwaukee, will definitely get a look while Thompson is sidelined.
“We’re gonna get him out there and just kind of see what he can do,” Lue said. “We’re confident that he can do some good things. We know he was defensive player of the year (at Virginia Commonwealth University), but he’s been out for a couple of years...So we’re gonna take a look at him and see what he can do.”
AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower in Boston contributed to this report.