Hill climbing closer to return from injury
Cavs forward, who has not played yet this season, expected to be back for Saturday's game at Chicago
By Marla Ridenour
Beacon Journal staff writer

In November, 1995 during his first stint in Cleveland, Tyrone Hill suffered a bruised spinal cord in an automobile accident. Instead of sitting out the rest of the season, as he now knows he should have, he returned to play the final 42 games.

Hill wasn't about to make the same mistake twice.

But the 11-year veteran forward who hasn't seen action in 2001-02 due to a back injury hopes to make his second-time-around debut with the Cavs on Saturday night at Chicago.

``That way I've got another two or three days to practice and try to get my timing down,'' Hill said. ``Right now it's all about my strength and timing. I'll be ready to play against Chicago. How many minutes? I'm pretty sure he's going to play me 10, maybe 15 minutes. I told him that, at least for a couple games.''

Even though Hill was able to participate in all drills for the first time at yesterday's practice, Coach John Lucas said Hill probably won't be activated from the injured list tonight as Cleveland hosts Toronto at Gund Arena in its first game after the All-Star break.

``He practiced a full practice today; he needs a couple more of those,'' Lucas said. ``Tomorrow he'll wake up and you hope he can do everything, avoid any setbacks. I don't want him to play one or two games and he's down for the year.''

Before facing Chicago, the Cavs visit Milwaukee tomorrow. When Lucas was asked what day he envisioned Hill being activated, he yelled to Hill on the court.

``Hey, Coach Hill. What day are you deciding to play?' '' Lucas hollered. When Hill didn't respond, Lucas said, ``I guess he'll tell you all, he won't tell me.''

Lucas was kidding, but fans seem to believe that Hill has been dogging it since he was traded back to Cleveland from Philadelphia in August.

``When I was here I gave everything I had night in and night out,'' Hill said, referring to his four seasons with the Cavs from 1993-97. ``I was hurt before they made the trade. For them to say I don't want to play and this and that, no way. That's just the nature of the business, something I have to deal with. Fans always have something to say about you, good or bad. I'm not going to push it. I'm going to take my time. I'm 33 years old. I'm not the Tyrone Hill of six or seven years ago.''

Lucas thinks Hill's struggle to return has been genuine.

``I've seen a lot of pain, I've seen a lot of what he's going through,'' Lucas said. ``Everybody throws rocks at a glass house.''

But Lucas said he left it up to Hill to decide when he was ready to play.

``I'm pushing the point more now than I had been because I see him coming on,'' Lucas said. ``He won't ever be 100 percent until maybe next year. But we want to get him out there and see who we are, who we can be with everybody healthy.''