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LeBron James says his job doesn't change with Kevin Love out

From NBA media reports

Losing All-Star Kevin Love to a broken hand added another item to the litany of issues the Cleveland Cavaliers are working through these days. After last night’s victory against the visiting Miami Heat, the Cavs have won three of their last four games — all of which have come against teams either in the playoff chase (the Pacers and Heat) or on the fringe of it (the Pistons).

LeBron James did a lot of the heavy lifting in the 91-89 victory Wednesday, finishing with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Although the Cavs were outrebounded 52-45 by the Heat, their defense came up big when it needed to late in the game. In particular, it was James who smothered Miami’s James Johnson on a game-tying shot to seal the win. After the game, James was asked if he would have to contribute more while Love is out and had a concise answer, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

A high-ranking Cavs official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said losing Love to a broken bone in his left hand for up to eight weeks would not change the team’s trading plans — which means Cleveland would not trade for a rebounder by the Feb. 8 deadline because Love is out.

The same official said the Cavs would get by on playing better offense, and James would have to pick up the slack for Love’s 9.4 rebounds overall and 7.4 defensive rebounds per game, as would Crowder and Jeff Green.

James was asked after Wednesday’s win over the Heat where he had to contribute more in Love’s absence, and he said: “No I just do me.”

“I average nine rebounds, so, I don’t have to do more than that,” James said. “I picked up two more tonight but I’m gonna just do me. And obviously (I) don’t like the way I shot it today, don’t like the way I handled the ball in the first half with the turnovers, but in the second half I was pretty solid with the ball, pretty solid with my rebounding, got my guys in some pretty good rhythms.

“So, my job doesn’t change no matter who’s in or out of the lineup.”

As Vardon also points out, James was above his season averages in rebounding (7.9 rpg) in the win against Miami. However, James’ defensive rating of 111.1 is the worst of his career and could stand to improve there. Additional pressure to score will be on guard Isaiah Thomas during Love’s absence and Thomas is currently struggling, averaging 15.4 ppg on 36.4 percent shooting.

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