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In wake of injury-riddled backcourt, James resumes secondary duties at point guard

CLEVELAND – An unexpected need for reinforcements has put the Cavs in a familiar position through three games this campaign.

When Derrick Rose went down with a right ankle sprain on Greg Monroe’s flagrant foul at Milwaukee on Friday evening, the immediate thought was to slide Jose Calderon – who signed a one-year deal worth $2.33 million in July – into the starting rotation.

Instead, LeBron James took over at the point guard position, a secondary role he has assumed since the departure of Matthew Dellavedova.

The results were up to par.

James put on another full display of his versatility in a 114-93 loss to the Magic on Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena, tallying 22 points (8-for-15) on four rebounds and two assists. His ability to shoulder the workload at a decimated position proved to keep the ship afloat in front of a sold-out crowd.

“With D-Rose going down, we kind of had to switch our rotation once again where we’re still trying to figure it out,” said James. “We’re trying to figure out our packages.”

After Calderon shot 0-for-2 with one turnover in his brief stint with the starting unit in the first quarter, the three-time NBA champion asserted himself as the team’s primary ball handler again.

“As professionals, you got to figure it out,” James said. “There’s always some chemistry things. There’s always some camaraderie things, things on the floor that you hope that you have.”

With the speed of a guard and the frame of a forward, James has been able to fill the void left by injured players like Rose and Isaiah Thomas (right hip), an ineffective Deron Williams or traded players such as Mo Williams and Kay Felder over the last two seasons.

A telling sign that head coach Tyronn Lue reaffirms this notion came at the start of the second half, when Iman Shumpert – who finished with 21 points and seven rebounds – started in place of Calderon and LeBron resumed duties in the backcourt.

“[Shumpert] came out in the third quarter, gave us a great spark,” said Lue. “We cut the lead to seven.”

Although James averaged a career-high 4.1 turnovers in 2016-17, his basketball instincts make him a temporary yet suitable fit until Rose and Isaiah Thomas return to a full workload.

John Alfes has covered Cleveland sports since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.

John Alfes is a senior at John Carroll University, and hails from Westlake, Ohio. His love and passion for the game of baseball originated in 1998, when he played catch with his father at the age of two. A former collegiate pitcher, Alfes currently serves as a Cleveland Cavaliers reporter for AP Radio/Metro Networks and the Cleveland Indians Beat Writer for CBS Sports/Scout Media Network, all while majoring in Communications (focus in Journalism) and English (focus in Professional Writing). He is the Sports Editor for The Carroll News, Sports Director for WJCU 88.7 FM and Senior Writer for the John Carroll Sports Information Department. John is an Eagle Scout and loves his two younger brothers (Conrad and Daniel) and two parents (John and Celeste). You can follow John Alfes on Twitter (@JohnAlfes) or reach him through email (jalfes18@jcu.edu).

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