LOS ANGELES • Kevin Love was not the only one feeling winded after the National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star forward had to leave the American Airlines Arena court early, following an inadvertent elbow to his face which left him with a visibly loose front tooth and concussion-like symptoms.
His team-mates were also left reeling after the Miami Heat led from the outset and routed the visiting Cavaliers 98-79 on Tuesday night, holding Cleveland to their lowest point total of the season.
Kelly Olynyk scored a game-high 19 points, while Dwyane Wade contributed 12 points against his former team. The Cavs (44-30) were hampered by Love's injury, which was inflicted by Miami centre Jordan Mickey just 1min 22sec into the first quarter.
Love failed to return after half-time and despite LeBron James' team-high 18 points, they had no answer to the Heat (40-35), who need two more wins in their last seven regular-season games to clinch a play-off berth.
"We missed shots early," said Cavs acting head coach Larry Drew, who dropped to 5-1 in Tyronn Lue's absence. "We allowed their pressure to take us out of some of the stuff we wanted to do. It became too big of a deficit."
Love took to Twitter to thank his mouth guard sponsor for preventing an even worse injury, but he remains a doubt for today's match-up against the Charlotte Hornets - just five games in after a 21-game absence with a broken hand.
Similarly, the Golden State Warriors continue to limp towards the post-season after the playoff-bound Indiana Pacers downed the injury-depleted champions 92-81 in Oakland on Tuesday.
The absence of All-Stars Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green led to the Warriors' sixth loss in March.
Coach Steve Kerr said Durant will return from a rib injury against the Milwaukee Bucks today.
"KD feels like he's ready to go - we're going to give him two extra days just to be safe," he said. "The last thing we want is for anybody to re-injure something."
Elsewhere, the San Antonio Spurs (43-32), already without All-Star Kawhi Leonard, lost LaMarcus Aldridge to a knee injury in the second quarter of their 106-116 loss to the Washington Wizards (41-33) on Tuesday. Aldridge was scheduled to undergo an MRI examination yesterday morning. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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