Cavs get Kevin Love back and beat Utah 91-83, but lose three more players

Cavs get Kevin Love back and beat Utah 91-83, but lose three more players

Cavs get Kevin Love back and beat Utah 91-83, but lose three more players

Cavs get Kevin Love back and beat Utah 91-83, but lose three more players

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The Cavs won and Kevin Love returned to game action nearly two weeks early from knee surgery, but the question must be asked:

What is going on with the injuries on this team?

Cleveland beat the Utah Jazz 91-83 Thursday night behind 33 points from LeBron James. Love, who had missed the last 13 games, contributed 10 points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes.

But in the process the Cavs lost both Kyrie Irving (left knee tightness) and Iman Shumpert (left shoulder sprain) to injuries in the third quarter and neither returned. Coach Tyronn Lue said neither injury was serious.

Cavs players have already missed a whopping 112 games due to injury or illness this season. With Love's return Thursday and Kyle Korver's imminent return from a sore left foot, Lue has been counting the minutes until he finally has a full complement of healthy players with which to defend the 2016 title.

Welp, Derrick Williams was ruled out before this one with a right quad bruise. Then Shumpert hurt his shoulder. And Irving bowed out.

It's getting ridiculous.

"It's part of the game," Lue said. "It's a long season. We're not the only team that's going through it. A lot of teams are going through it. It's just part of a long season. You're going to get some nick knacks, you're going to get banged up, but fortunately for us our guys are OK."

As for the game, James took over in the fourth quarter with 17 points. He finished with 10 rebounds and six assists, and now has nine double-doubles in his last 10 games. His layup with 2:12 to go put Cleveland ahead 86-81, and then he found J.R. Smith (12 points) in the corner with 1:10 remaining for a 3-pointer and an 89-83 advantage. James added another layup with 1:03 to go.

James moved into 13th place in NBA history in baskets, surpassing Tim Duncan (10,285 field goals). He shot 13-of-20 from the field. This was James' 17th game this season with at least 30 points.

Irving scored 21 points with four rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes. He's scored at least 20 points in 17 consecutive games.

Lue said before the game that Love was on a minutes restriction and probably wouldn't play on consecutive nights initially.

Love hadn't played since Feb. 11 and underwent surgery to remove "loose bodies" from his left knee on Feb. 14. His comeback happened four weeks and two days from surgery.

Love started his scored with a pretty 18-foot jumper at 7:43 of the opening period. When the quarter was over Love had eight points and three rebounds. For what it's worth, James didn't score in the first.

"It's going to take [Love] some time and we expect that," Lue said. "Any time you come off an injury, and just mentally I think it's going to take him some time to know that he can do the things he's capable of doing. And also just timing wise, conditioning wise, it's going to take him a little time but it's just good to have him back out there. We're going to be patient and we know it's going to take some time but we're happy he's there."

Rudy Gobert paced the Jazz with 20 points and 19 rebounds. Gordon Hayward added 13 points. The Jazz have not won in Cleveland in five years.

Shumpert tried what would've been the dunk of the year over Gobert, Utah's 7-1 center, and missed, though it's worth noting he tried the dunk with his right hand. The two then collided on the Jazz' next possession. Somewhere in there, Shumpert hurt himself -- the same shoulder he dislocated in 2014 before he was traded to the Cavs from New York.

It was not immediately clear when Irving began feeling discomfort.

"He's fine," Lue said. 

The Cavs surpassed the team record for 3s in a season (880) set last year in the second quarter. There are still 15 games left.

NEXT: The Cavs begin a four-game, bi-coastal road trip Saturday in Los Angeles against the Clippers at 8:30 p.m. on ABC. The trip ends March 24 in Charlotte.