Lue: LeBron's heavy minutes no different from Jordan's, Malone's

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Gregory Shamus / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Monday's blowout win over the Detroit Pistons was the first time all season that Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James played fewer than 30 minutes in a game (27), and the seventh time over the past two years.

Turning 33 years old next month, and having made 1,078 regular season and 217 playoff appearances, James is playing more now than he has since 2012-13, when he was in his prime with the Miami Heat.

According to Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, though, James' heavy minutes aren't much different than that of some of the NBA's all-time greats.

"I hear about that all the time," said Lue, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "I played with Michael Jordan when he was 39, he played 37 minutes a night. Karl Malone was 37, played 38 minutes a night, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Kobe (Bryant). Everybody's built different. If you're one of the greats, sometimes you've got to play, sometimes you get rest like tonight."

James leads the Association in minutes at 37.9 per game, and is one of only three players topping the 37-minute mark on average. The other two - Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks - are 22 and 26 years old, respectively.

It was just last week when James agreed with Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, who praised James for being "superhuman" but was critical of Cleveland for playing him so much so early in the campaign. He responded by admitting he'd like for his minutes to go down, but with injuries to his team's point guards in Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose, he's been called upon to compensate for their absences.

It sounds like all the hoopla about his PT is starting to wear on the four-time Most Valuable Player, as well.

"You make so much a big thing about my minutes," James said Monday. "It's not a huge issue. But at the end of the day, when we can get a win like this, everybody benefits from it. Not just me. Everybody."

James had 18 points, a pair of rebounds, and eight dimes on 7-of-14 shooting in Cleveland's 116-88 victory, which was the team's fifth in a row and sixth in its last seven outings.