LOS ANGELES -- After a 127-113 blowout loss to the Lakers on Sunday, LeBron James said that all of the injuries the Cavaliers are experiencing make it hard to judge his team right now, as Cleveland fell to 6-6 since overhauling its roster at the trade deadline.
"Listen, at the end of the day you've got to want the most out of whoever you've got on the floor," James said. "You want to get the most from whoever is playing, but sometimes you can't overcome this many injuries that we have. We have pretty much five guys out of our top nine or top 10 of our rotation not playing because of injuries. It's next man up, but sometimes you just fall short."
Cleveland was without Kevin Love (fractured left hand), Tristan Thompson (sprained right ankle), Rodney Hood (lower back strain) and Cedi Osman (left hip flexor) against the Lakers, leaving Cavs coach Tyronn Lue with no choice but to play seldom-used rookie center Ante Zizic and two-way contract player John Holland for significant minutes.
"Can you judge what we have on the floor?" James asked. "I mean you don't know. You don't know."
Asked to identify his biggest concern with the Cavs, James said, simply: "Our injuries."
Adding insult to those injuries was former Cavs guard Isaiah Thomas scoring 14 of his 20 points in the second half off the bench to break the game open.
"I don't need to show anybody," Thomas said. "They know what I can do. I only played 15 games for them, so it's really not about showing them what I can do; the world knows what I can do and what I bring to the table. I took it as another game and I just wanted to win, and we did a hell of a job as a team beating that really good team over there."
But the jury is still out on whether the Cavs are a really good team.
Lue pointed out that the roller-coaster season has seen the Cavs take on several different shapes as a squad.
"Pretty much have three different teams in one season," Lue said before Sunday's game. "Just trying to get the guys we have up to speed. This is the team we're going to have for the rest of the season, so just making sure we're playing our best basketball going into the playoffs is my biggest concern."
The coaching staff is worried about overworking its healthy players and risking further injuries to the roster, sources told ESPN.
"Ups and downs, just trying to figure it out," Cavs forward Jeff Green said. "It's been filled with injuries. It's just been a tough roller coaster."
But there is still optimism that a good stretch of basketball is around the corner for the Cavs when they do get healthy.
"I'm not concerned at all," Green told ESPN. "We have a lot of weapons out that we rely on, and we got to figure it out. There's no excuses."
Kyle Korver admitted it has worn on the team's psyche.
"I was talking with Bron. He sets a really great example for how to take care of yourself. I think physically we're OK; I think mentally it's easy to get tired right now," Korver said. "It's been a grind of a year. We've got to find ways to stay fresh. You've got to find ways to fill your cup. We're all different, and we all have to find our own way to do that."
Korver, like James, did not want to label the Cavs at the moment.
"It's hard to gauge because we just have so many guys out," Korver said. "We're so low on big men right now. So when we're small, they're just kind of switching everything on us and we're not able to -- there's not a lot of movement out there for us. That's what makes basketball fun is when the ball is moving, bodies are moving and hopping.
"I think we're just missing some smiles out there on the court right now. It feels very serious. We're just kind of slugging it out. It'll help once we get some healthy bodies back. And there's not a lot of time, for sure."
The loss to the Lakers dropped Cleveland to the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference with 16 games to play.
"You never accept losses," Lue said. "It's tough. We got a lot of young guys playing and different lineups, but we still got to play better."
The team just hopes there is another peak to follow this valley.
"It's like black or white," Korver said of the Cavs' fleeting success this season. "There's no in-between. But in Iowa we'd say, 'There might be a little drought right now, but when it rains, it's going to pour.' We'll hold onto that. Right now, it feels a little low and a little dry. Hopefully, it'll turn soon and we'll be in a good way once the playoffs start."