LeBron James might have thought he would get a bit of a break on Thursday (Friday Manila time) night when he heard Kevin Love was returning to the lineup. However, it was not to be as he was forced to step up late after the Cleveland Cavaliers lost two starters to injuries, scoring 17 of the Cavs’ 24 points in the fourth quarter to lift them to a 91-83 win over the Utah Jazz.
James was on the floor for 38 minutes and needed to play heavy in the fourth quarter after both Kyrie Irving (left knee tightness) and Iman Shumpert (left shoulder sprain) suffered injuries and did not return.
To make matters worse, Love was on a minutes restriction after missing the previous 13 games recovering from knee surgery.
LeBron finished with a game-high 33 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, hitting 13 of 20 from the floor. And of course he had his usual array of highlights.
— NBA (@NBA) March 17, 2017
In the process he passed Tim Duncan for 13th place on the all-time field-goals list with 10,286. Despite James’ efficiency from the floor, the Cavs still shot just 42 percent in the win.
James’ minutes have been a concern for most of the season as the Cavs have juggled their starting lineup due to injuries. Love, J.R. Smith and Shumpert have missed extended time, putting extra pressure on the four-time MVP to shoulder the load. Thursday was the 47th time in 61 games that he’s played at least 35 minutes.
The Cavs have little breathing room as the number one seed in the East, holding a 2½-game lead over the Celtics. With the win Thursday, the Cavs continued to dominate the other conference at home, having won 32 of their past 38 games against the West in Cleveland.
All the other results from the NBA on Thursday can be seen below:
Toronto Raptors 102-123 Oklahoma City Thunder
Atlanta Hawks 91-103 Memphis Grizzlies
New York Knicks 110-121 Brooklyn Nets
Denver Nuggets 129-114 Los Angeles Clippers
Golden State Warriors ?-? Orlando Magic