LeBron James: Kevin Love's Absence Has Been 'Challenging for All of Us'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2018

Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love (0) talks with LeBron James (23) in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

After Thursday's 113-105 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James discussed Kevin Love's importance.

Per ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin, LeBron talked about how challenging it has been to play without the big man in recent weeks: "It's been a long time since I haven't played with another All-Star on my team. So, having Kev out has been very challenging for all of us. Kev has a big usage rate on our team. He'll get the ball when things get tight, chaotic, we can throw it to him in the low post and get some things going."

Love is nursing a fractured left hand, and the Cavs have gone just 10-10 during his absence.

In addition to Love, Tristan Thompson, Larry Nance Jr. and Cedi Osman missed Thursday's game due to injuries, while Rodney Hood was limited to 19 minutes with a back injury.

James noted that while the injury bug has taken its toll, he hasn't changed the way he plays:

"It's not just Kev. We're missing Double T [Thompson] as well. Rodney went back out again. So, obviously, you want to win every game, but my approach doesn't change.

"[It] has always stayed the same: Just continue to attack, attack defenses, and if I attract two to the ball, give my guys opportunities. Rebound the ball. Defend. There's a lot of energy that's used with that, but that's fine as well."

LeBron turned in another stellar individual effort against the Blazers with 35 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, three blocks and two steals, but no other Cavs player reached the 20-point plateau.

Conversely, both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum topped 20 points for the Blazers, who are riding an 11-game winning streak.

On Wednesday, Love told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com he is hoping to return to the lineup against the Phoenix Suns on March 23.

Love, who was named an All-Star for the fifth time this season, is averaging 17.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game while shooting 40.4 percent from beyond the arc.

The Cavs are fourth in the Eastern Conference at 39-29, and they will look to get back on track Saturday against the Chicago Bulls.

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