It’s not exactly The Island of Misfit Toys, but LeBron James does indeed find himself a man on an island.
All by his lonesome, too.
With Kevin Love having now missed 20 games with a broken left hand, James, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ resident superstar, is the only All-Star on the active roster.
And while he’s been carrying a gargantuan share of the load, it’s not been enough to keep the Cavaliers from being no better than a .500 team of late.
Case in point, James’ 35 points, six rebounds, 14 assists, two steals and three blocked shots in 41 minutes against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night at Moda Center.
Try as he might, and James did pretty much all he could, save for shooting 4-of-9 from the free-throw line and committing six turnovers, he could not save the Cavs, who fell to the red-hot Blazers, 113-105, Portland’s 11th consecutive victory.
What has LeBron's approach been to this recent stretch of games when the team has needed it most?
— FOX Sports Ohio (@FOXSportsOH) March 16, 2018
Now 33 and in his 15th NBA season, James said while his mindset has not changed, how effective it is in terms of producing victories remains up in the air.
— NBA (@NBA) March 16, 2018
Cleveland (39-29) is 8-7 since the massive roster makeover done by general manager Koby Altman and 10-10 since Love broke his left hand a Detroit.
“Well, I mean, it is what it is,” James said. “I think at the end of the day, my approach has always stayed the same — just continue to attack, attack defenses and if I attract two to the ball, give my guys opportunities.
“Rebound the ball. Defend,” he continued. “There’s a lot of energy that’s used with that, but that’s fine as well.”
James is averaging 27.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.0 assists this season. Since the deadline-day roster overhaul, the numbers are even more impressive — 28.9 points, 10.4 rebounds and 9.7 assists.
LeBron has played in all 68 games this season for the Cavaliers, one of only two guys on the roster to do so, the other being 36-year-old Kyle Korver, who will turn 37 on Saturday.
Not having Love, a five-time All-Star who is wavering 17.9 points and 9.4 rebounds this season, has only magnified how much Cleveland leans on James. Obviously, so has the trade that sent All-Star guard Kyrie Irving to Boston on Aug. 22.
“But it’s been a long time since I haven’t played with another All-Star on my team,” James admitted. “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.”
Love is hoping to return a week from today against Phoenix at Quicken Loans Arena. Larry Nance Jr. (right hamstring), Tristan Thompson (right ankle) and rookie Cedi Osman (left hip) are also sidelined, with Nance being to closest to returning as he’s listed as day to day. Rodney Hood labored through his return from missing most of the last three games with a lower back strain and was removed from Thursday night’s game.