And that was it for Love, four weeks removed from knee surgery that cost him 13 games and restricted Thursday to those 20 minutes. The fourth seed in the Western Conference going into the night, the Jazz had won six of their last seven games.
While it wasn't necessarily a game that the Jazz were expected to win, the final outcome still ended up coming as somewhat of a disappointment as they played well for most of the contest and truly put themselves in a situation to come away victorious.
On a deeper level, however, there's the fact that the Cavaliers defense fell off a table since Love went down. The heroics of James were required after Kyrie Irving left the game with left knee tightness and Iman Shumpert was forced to depart with left shoulder trouble.
Kevin Love's return to the Cavs ended with a groan, not because of injury but a bad pass.
Jazz fans have known this truth for quite some time now, especially of late as Utah has been playing quite well, but as LeBron mentioned, given Utah's small market status and overall lack of recognition on national media, many casual fans don't even realize that the Jazz are well on their way to home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. His presence will be key for a Cavaliers team that has struggled in March, 3-5 before the Jazz game. He was healthy, but Lue opted to sit him out together with Cavaliers veterans Deron Williams and James Jones. Coach Tyronn Lue said after the game that it doesn't appear to be serious.
Either way, Love is surely glad to be back. "Just having him around means a lot to guys like Kevin and Kyrie and the young guys on our team". "We expect that. Anytime you come off an injury, I think mentally it's going to take some time to know he can do some of the things he's capable of doing, timing-wise, conditioning-wise".
Third-seeded Florida State survives vs. Florida Gulf Coast
The third-seeded Florida State Seminoles don't care that No. 14 seed Florida Gulf Coast was a fun upset pick. Bacon ensured the Eagles' year wouldn't continue despite their gritty effort.
"His defensive rebounding, for one", Lue said when asked what the Cavaliers missed the most while Love was out. He hit four of his eight attempts from three-point range in this one for 12 points, and he finished +11, second only to LeBron James.
"Just try to be an MVP for this team every night that I go out on the floor", James said via ESPN's Dave McMenamin.
The Cavaliers said before Thursday's game forward Derrick Williams is out with a right quad contusion.
The former Jazz to Cleveland movement began with Jefferson, however.
The Cavs now head to Los Angeles where they will have a back to back Saturday and Sunday with the Lakers and Clippers before heading to Denver. For now, though, the Cavaliers should just be happy that they were able to add some depth in recent weeks to at least alleviate some of these injuries as much as possible.