TORONTO -- Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith suffered a left knee injury in the first quarter of the Cavs' 116-112 win over the Toronto Raptors on Monday and did not return.
Smith scored a floater with 1:52 remaining in the first quarter and his left leg buckled as he tried to collect himself upon landing. The 13-year veteran initially attempted to limp down the court before falling to the floor in a heap in front of the Raptors bench and pulling his jersey up over his face to mask his pained expression. Following a Cavs timeout, Smith limped to the locker room on his own power, biting a towel as he made his way through the tunnel.
"I just landed wrong," said a despondent Smith after the game. "Was just trying to shoot my normal floater and I came down on it wrong."
Initial X-rays on Smith's knee were negative, a team source told ESPN.com. Despite Smith's recent desire to avoid getting an MRI, Smith will travel back to Cleveland on Tuesday and receive further examination, imaging and evaluation at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health, according to the team.
"I mean, I got to get it done now, so, yeah, I just can't put it off no more," Smith said of the MRI.
Smith, 31, came into the Raptors game mired in a tough shooting slump, averaging just 4.3 points on 7-for-40 shooting (17.5 percent) in his past five games. He finished Monday with two points on 1-of-2 shooting in 10 minutes.
The Cavs' starting shooting guard has been favoring the knee for at least a week, but he told Cleveland.com after Cleveland's 113-94 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers last Thursday that he did plan to receive an MRI on the joint.
"It's something he's been trying to play with," said Cavs coach Ty Lue when asked about Smith's knee prior to his team's 111-105 loss to the Chicago Bulls last Friday. "Not for sure how serious it is, but it's something that's been nagging him for a little while ... It's something we've got to look at and be cautious with, but for now he's fine."
Smith had told ESPN.com his knee discomfort was unrelated to his right ankle injury that caused him to miss three games earlier in the season.
After signing a four-year, $57 million extension with the Cavs coming off the championship over the Golden State Warriors, Smith is averaging 8.1 points on a career-low 30.8 percent shooting from the field along with 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. He is averaging 1.5 steals per game, however, tying a career high in that category.
Lue admitted prior to the Bulls game that Cleveland might have to shut Smith down and allow his knee to heal.
"If he gets worse and not better, then we definitely have to do that," Lue said. "The training staff is looking into it, see how he feels. We're going to go off of his feel. He's moving pretty good, but you can tell he's favoring it at times. If it becomes a problem or it gets worse, we got to sit him."
The Cavs likely will extend Iman Shumpert's minutes for whatever duration of time Smith's knee causes him to miss, starting with Wednesday's game against the New York Knicks. Lue said that he is weighing the possibility of using DeAndre Liggins in Smith's place in the starting lineup as to not shake up his bench unit, which Shumpert is a part of. Liggins finished with five points and five rebounds against the Raptors, causing LeBron James to tell Fox Sports Ohio he deserved the game ball.
"Next man up has always been our mindset and obviously we hope the MRIs come back positive with JR's injury, so it's next man up and guys got to be able to fulfill that," James added after checking in on Smith in the locker room, clasping the back of Smith's head and looking him in the eyes to show his support.


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