(The Sports Xchange) – LeBron James scored 25 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and became the first player to score 20,000 points in a Cavaliers uniform in Cleveland’s 107-91 victory on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
And yet the storm clouds of a turbulent week that James helped induce for the Cavs may not be completely over.
Kevin Love left the game in the second quarter with back spasms and did not make the trip to Dallas for Monday’s game against the Mavericks. Instead, he’ll remain in Cleveland for an MRI on his back, which has now cost him the equivalent of three games in the last two weeks.
Coach Tyronn Lue acknowledged Love’s back was bothering him when he arrived at the arena on Sunday.
“It’s nothing to play with,” James said of Love’s back issues. James had back problems of his own a couple years ago.
“It’s a terrible feeling when your back is hurt. It just limits you more than anything. I know it’s very frustrating for him because he puts in a lot of work.”
Russell Westbrook had 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his 24th triple-double of the season and first of his career against the Cavs, but he struggled most of the day. Westbrook shot 7 of 26 and committed four turnovers while being guarded most of the day by Iman Shumpert.
“Russell’s seen every imaginable defense,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “He had some good looks, both in deep and in the free-throw line area. He had some 3s. It was a game where maybe shots didn’t go down for him, but I didn’t feel he was laboring to get shots off or he was having a difficult time getting to the rim. It was one of those games.”
Kyrie Irving scored 29 points and passed for 10 assists, while Tristan Thompson grabbed 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Cavs, who have won consecutive games after losing six of their previous eight.
Thompson had one of his best defensive games of the season blocking four shots and picking off four steals. Now he is the last remaining big in the rotation since Love is down at least temporarily.
“This has been our mantra since we all came together: Next man up. We talk about it every year,” Thompson said. “We hope Kevin gets well, takes care of his body, because you know we’re going to need him for the long haul. So, whatever he has to do to get 100 percent, that’s the most important.”
James, who is eighth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with nearly 28,000 career points, has nearly twice as many points as anyone else in a Cavs uniform. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is second on the team’s scoring list with 10,616 points.
(Editing by Andrew Both)