Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love suffered a left shoulder injury in the first half of the team's game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night. The team has confirmed the injury and announced that Love will not return to the contest.
The Cavaliers "do not believe Love's shoulder injury to be major," reports ESPN's Dave McMenamin. GM David Griffin later said that Love suffered a "stinger" and the team hopes he won't miss much time.
Love appeared to hurt his shoulder after making contact with an opposing player. The forward immediately began reacting in pain and walked off the court with his left arm hanging. Griffin could be seen following his star into the locker room.
This is the same shoulder that Love injured in the 2015 playoffs. During the Cavaliers' first-round series against the Boston Celtics, Love suffered a dislocated shoulder that kept him out for the remainder of the postseason. Love had to watch from the sideline as the Cavs got toppled in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
Another significant injury for Love would be devastating for Cleveland, which has emerged as the favorite in the Eastern Conference behind its Big Three of Love, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Having that group healthy is supposed to be the difference between this year's team and the one that fell short in 2015.
Love has averaged 15.8 points and 10.4 rebounds over 50 games with the Cavaliers this season. The team was beginning to find its identity after firing head coach David Blatt and replacing him with assistant Tyronn Lue. Now that process could be delayed with one of the key players on the mend, although it remains unclear how much time Love might miss. Cleveland may still be the favorite in the East, but it'll be hard to take on the West powers unless the team can stay healthy and foster some chemistry.