It also marked the first time in National Basketball Association history that three players - James, Russell Westbrook and James Harden - had recorded double-digit triple-doubles in a season, also per Elias. The fourth seed in the Western Conference going into the night, the Jazz had won six of their last seven games.
There was some good news for the Cavaliers, though, as before the game it was announced that Kevin Love would return to the team and would be starting in this game.
But James was forced to step up late after the Cleveland Cavaliers lost two starters to injuries, scoring 17 of the Cavs' 24 points in the fourth quarter to lift them to a 91-83 win over the Jazz.
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. The chilly touch was especially evident during the final six minutes, when they mustered just four points. Before his injury, the team was 20th in the league, with a defensive rating of 106.3.
The Jazz may not get a lot of notoriety or acclaim, they may not play a lot of games on national TV, and they may not have a lot of household names, but they execute really well in the half court offense and they are giving up the fewest points per game in the NBA on defense. His presence will be key for a Cavaliers team that has struggled in March, 3-5 before the Jazz game. While James is revered by some and perceived as a villain by others, regardless of any opinion of him there's simply no denying his basketball prowess.
"The medical staff just said he was great", coach Tyronn Lue said Thursday of Love's quick recovery.
10 and 9 - Yes, Kevin Love was back! Despite being on a minutes restriction, Love was still able to make an impact on the game. In his absence LeBron James did it all, and finished with 33 points on 20 shots, 10 rebounds, and six assists. Despite James' efficiency from the floor, the Cavs still shot just 42 percent in the win.
It's true that the Cavaliers' slump has been mostly caused by their defense, third-worst in the league since the All-Star break, but Love's return will help return a sense of normalcy to the roster.
Despite last night's cameo appearance, Sanders likely won't play much in the regular season.
The Cavaliers said before Thursday's game forward Derrick Williams is out with a right quad contusion. There's something about playing for LeBron James's teams that tends to work out for misfit players - just ask Chris Anderson or JR Smith. And at least now there's a silver lining to the defeat as it appears that even King James has begun to #TakeNote of this Jazz team.
The Cavs now head to Los Angeles where they will have a back to back Saturday and Sunday with the Lakers and Clippers before heading to Denver.
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