According to Cavs coach Ty Lue, Love will remain in Cleveland to undergo an MRI and will not make the trip to Dallas for Monday’s game.
“He’s not traveling with the team, so we’ll figure it out once he gets the images back,” Lue said.
Kyrie Irving scored 29 points, LeBron James had 25 points and 14 rebounds and the Cavaliers played one of their better all-around games in weeks, beating Russell Westbrook and the Thunder 107-91.
Love sat out a win over the Phoenix Suns on Jan. 19 because of his back, which he tweaked Jan. 13 in Sacramento. That later caused him to play only 16 minutes against the Golden State Warriors in a Finals rematch on Jan. 16.
Love played just 12 minutes against the Thunder, collecting eight rebounds and scoring one point on 0-for-4 shooting.
The setback capped a whirlwind week for the nine-year veteran, who was linked to trade talk involving Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks and was named as a reserve in the All-Star Game for the first time since joining the Cavs.
He is averaging 20.3 points on 42.8 percent shooting from the field and 37.9 percent from 3 for the season but just 15.5 points on 35.2 percent shooting overall and 30 percent from 3 in 11 appearances in January.
LeBron James, who has experienced back pain that was so severe he required an anti-inflammatory injection each of the past two seasons, was asked about Love’s condition.
“I don’t know exactly what he’s going through,” James said. “I don’t know if it’s a spasm, I don’t know if it’s vertebra, I don’t know if it’s a disk. It’s all different types of ways a back can be hurt. I know what mine was. If he comes to me or if he needs anything as far as what did I do and things of that nature, I can try to lend my helping hand. But if it’s different, then I don’t know. Everybody’s body is different.
“But it’s nothing to play with. It’s nothing to play with. It’s a terrible feeling when your back is hurt. It just limits you more than anything. I know it’s very frustrating for him because he puts in a lot of work. He’s in the weight room all the time, and he’s doing his thing to keep his body in shape, then this is happening to him, so it’s very frustrating. Hopefully, things get better for him soon.”
Several Cavs players believed 14-year veteran James Jones would likely fill in for Love in the starting lineup.
“Like always, next guy’s got to step up,” Tristan Thompson said. “Champ [James Jones[ came in and did a reverse layup. I haven’t seen that since maybe he played at the University of Miami, so guys got to step up. This has been our mantra since we all came together: next man up. We talk about it every year. Next man up. We hope Kevin gets well, takes care of his body, because you know we’re going to need him for the long haul. So whatever he has to do to get 100 percent, that’s the most important. We need Kev for the long haul. Everyone wants to push it through, but if you’re hurt or you’re not feeling right, get right because we need the big fella.”