Basketball: Love hurt in Cavaliers win

Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers prepares to shoot a free throw. Photo / Getty Images
Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers prepares to shoot a free throw. Photo / Getty Images

Kevin Love's shoulder injury has overshadowed Kobe Bryant's Cleveland farewell and Kyrie Irving's season-high NBA effort as the Cavaliers downed Bryant's Los Angeles 120-11.

Australian-born Irving scored 35 points and LeBron James had 29 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists on Thursday for Cleveland, who enter the All-Star break on a three-game winning streak and focused on the health of their power forward.

Love's shoulder seemed to be caught by the Lakers' Bryant when Love was backing him down on a shot in the post.

Love yelled in pain and headed for the bench with 45 seconds left in the second quarter, then walked immediately to the locker room with the left arm dangling.

It's the same shoulder Love had surgically repaired in 2015 after he dislocated it in a playoff series against the Boston Celtics.

Love needed six months to recover from that surgery, returning late in the preseason, although one source said the team was being overly cautious and it doesn't appear to be as serious.

James and Irving have said they want Love to be the focal point of the offence, and coach Tyronn Lue has gone to great lengths since taking over to make Love feel more comfortable in the Cavaliers' system.

Love's exit overshadowed Bryant's final appearance in Cleveland. He had 17 points and six rebounds while shooting just five of 16.

There is a mutual respect between Bryant and James, who shared a hug when Bryant checked out of the game in the final minute to a standing ovation from the visiting crowd.

Bryant reiterated on Thursday he didn't consider James a rival because the two stars weren't really in the same generation.

Bryant also insists the two have always had a better relationship than what was perceived.

"We've been close.

We talk on the phone probably more than people know," he said.

There will only be one meeting left between James and Bryant - next month at Staples Center.

The two legends have combined to appear in each of the last nine NBA Finals, yet somehow never met to play for one.

In other NBA games on Thursday, Golden State Warriors beat the Phoenix Suns 112-104.

Stephen Curry had 26 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, Klay Thompson netted 24, and the visiting Warriors shaded the Suns (14-39) to enter the All-Star break at 48-4, which is the best record through 52 games in NBA history.

The San Antonio Spurs downed Orlando Magic 98-96; the Boston Celtics beat the LA Clippers 139-134; Karl-Anthony Towns scored 35 points for the Minnesota Timberwolves to help down the Toronto Raptors 117-112; the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Houston Rockets 116-103; the Memphis Grizzlies blasted the Brooklyn Nets 109-90; the Atlanta Hawks crushed the Chicago Bulls 113-90; the New Orleans Pelicans stopped the Utah Jazz's seven-game success 100-96; the Denver Nuggets dropped the Detroit Pistons 102-93; the Sacramento Kings rushed past the league-worst Philadelphia 76ers 114-100; and the visiting Charlotte Hornets pounded the Indiana Pacers 117-95.

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