LeBron James dunks get the job done for the Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James has led the Cleveland Cavaliers to another win in the NBA, taking down the Utah Jazz 91-83 on a night where his team's injury-riddled season took another strange twist.
The Cavaliers got one player back from injury, but lost two others in the basketball game on Thursday (NZT Friday) as James scored 33 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter.
Kevin Love played for the first time since 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.
James 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 said the knee had been bothering him for 48 hours and tightened up when he went to the bench after the third quarter. He wasn't sure if he'd 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 (NZT Thursday), 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 JR 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 February 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.
The Jazz had won six of seven going into the game.