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Cavs Notes

Cavaliers 121, Pistons 104: Cleveland fantastic in 4th quarter, gets fun victory

  • Pistons-Cavaliers-Basketball-2

    Detroit's Stanley Johnson, left, fouls Cleveland's Kevin Love in the first half Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena.

    TONY DEJAK / AP

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CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers have a winning streak. And don’t look now, but they’re starting to have fun again.

LeBron James and Co. played a great fourth quarter Sunday to defeat the short-handed Detroit Pistons 121-104 at Quicken Loans Arena, giving them their first two-game winning streak since they won five in a row from Dec. 9-17.

Cleveland outscored Detroit, which has lost eight in a row and was playing without guards Reggie Jackson (ankle) and Avery Bradley (groin), 31-17 in the final period.

James led the way with 25 points, eight rebounds and 14 assists, but he got great help at both ends of the floor from guys like J.R. Smith (15 points), Kyle Korver (12), Jae Crowder (12) and Channing Frye (seven points, seven rebounds) when it mattered most.

“We were on top of plays,” James said. “We finished almost every defensive possession with a defensive rebound.”

Cleveland (29-19) also got 20 points and 11 boards from Kevin Love and 14 points and seven assists from Isaiah Thomas, who helped turn around the game late in the third period.

It added up to a happy locker room, which hasn’t been the case for a while.

“We just need to build our habits,” James said. “When the ball is flying around like it was tonight, everyone is happy.”

That included Thomas’ two young boys, who squeezed through media members to say hello to James, with one of them grilling the four-time league MVP as to why he wasn’t at his birthday party Saturday.

“We just have to get back to having fun and winning and enjoying the process,” Frye said. “Winning is fun. Losing sucks.”

Frye was responsible for a lot of the joking around, as he had a rare tip-dunk in the first half and a key up-and-under layup in the fourth period. After the dunk, Smith and Love ran past midcourt to chest-bump the veteran during a timeout.

“To see Channing actually get above the rim is exciting,” said Smith, who went 4-of-7 on 3-pointers.

Frye, who played 21 minutes, was happy for another reason.

“I had fun because I wasn’t sitting the bench,” he joked. “I didn’t have to do extra cardio (after the game).”

Forwards Anthony Tolliver and Tobias Harris had 20 points apiece for the Pistons (22-26), with center Andre Drummond adding 17 points, 11 boards and four assists.

Detroit made 10 threes in the first half, but was just 4-for-15 after intermission, including 1-for-5 while going 7-for-24 from the field overall in the fourth period.

A large portion of the credit for the fourth quarter goes to the Cavs defense, which was markedly improved.

As a result, so was the team’s postgame demeanor, though Korver said things were never as bad as some outsiders thought they were.

“Inside, it’s OK,” he said. “On the outside, it’s like this thing is burning down. It’s crazy. But we’re OK.”

The Pistons took some bad shots late in the third and Cleveland closed the period on a 10-2 run to take a 90-87 lead, with Thomas generating a lot of offense late in the quarter while playing with the second unit.

The 5-foot-9 point guard then didn’t play at all in the fourth because the Cavs were playing so well without him.

“We were playing better on both ends,” Thomas said. “We’ve just got to build on this and continue to believe in each other.”

The Cavs led by as many as 10 in the first half, but fell apart late and Detroit rallied to go up 61-58 at intermission on the strength of 10-for-21 3-point shooting.

Cleveland’s effort — and subsequently its demeanor — picked up considerably after that, especially in the fourth quarter.

“We were running around like some crazy men,” Frye said. “The ball was finding energy.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.

Cavaliers 121, Pistons 104

DETROIT (104): Tolliver 6-12 3-4 20, Harris 8-20 0-0 20, Drummond 7-14 3-4 17, I.Smith 3-9 1-1 7, Bullock 4-8 2-2 14, Johnson 6-15 1-2 14, Moreland 1-1 0-0 2, Buycks 4-9 0-0 8, Kennard 1-7 0-0 2. Totals 40-95 10-13 104.

CLEVELAND (121): James 8-15 8-9 25, Love 8-14 0-0 20, Thompson 4-5 1-1 9, Thomas 5-12 3-4 14, J.Smith 4-7 3-3 15, Crowder 4-6 3-4 12, Osman 0-0 0-0 0, Green 2-6 1-2 5, Frye 3-7 0-0 7, Rose 0-2 2-2 2, Korver 4-9 1-1 12. Totals 42-83 22-26 121.

Detroit 28 33 26 17 — 104

Cleveland 33 25 32 31 — 121

3-Point Goals—Detroit 14-36 (Tolliver 5-8, Bullock 4-6, Harris 4-11, Johnson 1-6, I.Smith 0-1, Buycks 0-2, Kennard 0-2), Cleveland 15-35 (Love 4-6, J.Smith 4-7, Korver 3-7, Crowder 1-2, Frye 1-3, James 1-4, Thomas 1-4, Green 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Detroit 43 (Drummond 11), Cleveland 45 (Love 11). Assists—Detroit 31 (I.Smith, Tolliver 5), Cleveland 27 (James 14). Total Fouls—Detroit 23, Cleveland 14. Technicals—Harris. A—20,562 (20,562).



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