LeBron James: ‘Challenging’ playing without Kevin Love

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Love has been blamed for team problems throughout his Cleveland Cavaliers career, but his injury has led LeBron James and Co. to realize the power forward’s value.

ESPN’s Dave McMenamin noted what LeBron said following the struggling squad’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

“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.”

Including the contest Love exited Dec. 30 after playing just five minutes, Cleveland has mustered a 10-10 record. During this stretch, the Cavs have plummeted from six games behind the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference down to 12.

Say what you want about Love’s off-court fit, but he’s clearly a top contributor. The 10th-year forward has provided 17.9 points on 46.3 percent shooting while grabbing 9.4 rebounds per game.

Although injuries have plagued Cleveland all season, Love’s absence is being felt in a major way.