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Archive for Sunday, May 23, 2004

Bad back could sideline Cassell in Game 2

May 23, 2004

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— Sam Cassell was held out of practice Saturday because of a bad back, but Minnesota's ailing point guard plans on playing in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

The Timberwolves, trailing 1-0 in the series to Los Angeles, play host to the Lakers tonight.

"Crying isn't going to make it better," Cassell said. "I just have to continue to do what I can do when I'm out there."

Cassell, playing in obvious pain, scored 16 points in 32 minutes in Game 1 on Friday before heading to the bench for good with 1:27 remaining in the third quarter.

He was sorely missed down the stretch, as the Lakers pulled away for a 97-88 win.

"It's tough to play basketball like that, because the game is so fast that you can't predict what movement you're going to make," he said. "I'm thinking how I've got to run, how I've got to land. I've got to gather myself even taking a jump shot."

Cassell, 34, had a career season for the Wolves after arriving from Milwaukee in a trade last summer. He spent Saturday getting treatment on his back. Coach Flip Saunders said he would make a decision whether to play Cassell before today's game.

Cassell is one of the NBA's top competitors, so sitting down during critical times is not something he's accustomed to.

"He's used to making big shots," Saunders said. "He was frustrated, because he couldn't get to the spots on the floor where he wanted to get."

Cassell shot 5-for-14.

"I pride myself on taking over games with five minutes to go," Cassell said Saturday. "It feels decent enough to me, but then as time goes on, with the fatigue factor, it just haunts me."

Cassell said he came down awkwardly after jumping to tip a ball in the third quarter Friday, and the landing set the injury back to "square one."

Sitting out Saturday didn't mean he was completely unable to play, he said, just that rest was the most important thing at the moment.

"Give my body a break," Cassell said. "I've been pushing my body, playing hard."

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