Love returns in win over Jazz, but 2 more Cavs injured
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Cavaliers got one player back from injury Thursday night, but lost two others.
Fortunately for the defending NBA champions, they can always count on LeBron James.
James scored 33 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter, and Cleveland defeated the Utah Jazz 91-83 on a night that the Cavaliers’ injury-riddled season took another strange twist.
Kevin Love played for the first time since having surgery on his left knee last month, and scored 10 points in 19 minutes. But Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert left with injuries.
Irving, who scored 21 points, didn’t play in the fourth quarter because of tightness in his left knee and said he left for precautionary reasons. He had a brief conversation with James before leaving.
“I went to ’Bron and was like, ‘You got this?’ and he said, ‘Yeah,’” Irving said.
James certainly did.
He was 13 of 20 from the field and had 10 rebounds with six assists. He also moved into 13th place all time in field goals, passing Tim Duncan in the fourth quarter.
“Kyrie looked at me and said he probably won’t be able to finish the game,” James said. “With Kev being on a minutes restriction coming back, I knew Shump was out, I had to step up the scoring load a little bit.”
Irving told reporters the knee had been bothering him for 48 hours and tightened up when he went to the bench after the third quarter. He isn’t sure if he’ll miss any playing time.
Shumpert sprained his left shoulder in the third quarter. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said Shumpert, who has been starting at shooting guard for nearly three months, is listed as day-to-day.
Rudy Gobert led Utah with 20 points and 18 rebounds. The Jazz, who played in Detroit on Wednesday, seemed to run out of gas down the stretch.
James hit two free throws to put Cleveland ahead midway through the fourth. He drove down the lane for a thunderous dunk and added a 3-pointer, giving Cleveland an 84-77 lead.
The Jazz cut the margin to 84-81, but J.R. Smith’s 3-pointer from the corner and James’ layup put away Cleveland’s second straight win after losing four of five.
Love had eight points in the first quarter. He had surgery Feb. 14 and was originally expected to miss six weeks.
“Wind felt pretty good,” he said. “It was either going to be this weekend or tonight. I think once I saw how I was progressing and didn’t have any hiccups, tonight just felt right.”
Shumpert had a dislocated left shoulder when the Cavaliers acquired him from the New York Knicks in 2015.
The Cavaliers set a franchise record for 3-pointers made in a season (887), breaking the mark they set last season.
Gordon Hayward was 4 of 14 from the field and scored 13 points. Joe Johnson and Joe Ingles each scored 12.
TO BE EXPECTED
James’ big fourth quarter was no surprise to the Jazz, who had won six of seven going into the game.
“That’s why LeBron is who he is,” Hayward said. “He took over the game when we were right there in the fourth.”
Jazz: F Derrick Favors (bruised left knee) and G Shelvin Mack (sprained left ankle) remain out. There’s no timetable for Favors’ return. ... Gobert extended his streak of blocked shots in consecutive games to 37, a league high. ... Utah is 20-14 on the road.
Cavaliers: G Kyle Korver (sore left foot) missed his fifth straight game, but is expected to return during the upcoming road trip. ... Lue said Smith will return to the starting lineup when the team is back to full strength. ... F Derrick Williams (right quad contusion) didn’t play.
Jazz: Visit Chicago on Saturday. Utah hasn’t beaten the Bulls on the road since Jan. 7, 2015.
Cavaliers: Visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday in the opener of a four-game road trip.