Five quick takes on the Cavaliers' 121-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night at Quicken Loans Arena...
1. Thanks, they needed that. After what felt like a claustrophobic month... OK, check that, it was a claustrophobic month, this one was a breath of fresh air. The victory makes it two in a row for the Cavaliers, their first two-game winning streak in 42 days! Before the last two wins, the Cavaliers (29-19) had lost six of seven games.
2. Cleveland entered the game as the worst-ranked defensive team in the NBA and it played to form through almost three quarters, trailing, 85-79. Then, spurred by his best stretch as a Cavalier by IsaiahThomas (14 points, 2 rebounds, 7 assists in the game), the Cavs finished the third on an 11-2 run to take a 90-87 lead into the fourth quarter. Thomas had a season-high seven assists through three quarters.
3. At that point, Cleveland coach TyronnLue changed course, going with LeBron James at the point and surrounding him with four shooters/slashers -- ChanningFrye, KyleKorver, JeffGreen and JaeCrowder.
It produced the expected result, offensively -- the Cavs scored 31 points. More importantly, though, and more surprisingly, it produced an unexpected result, defensively -- Cleveland limited Detroit to but 17 points in the final 12 minutes, the Cavs' second-best defensive fourth quarter on the season.
Detroit was 10-of-21 from 3 in the first half, but 4-of-15, including 1-of-5 in the fourth quarter, in the second half as the five guys they started the fourth quarter continuously with ran Piston off Piston off the 3-point line. It effectively shut down the Pistons, who will lug an eight-game skid into a rematch with the Cavs on Tuesday night in Detroit, with their 3-point game taken away. Cleveland limited Detroit to 29-percent shooting in the final 12 minutes.
4. How good was that group? With 5:26 to go, Frye scored on a nifty up-and-under, wraparound right-handed layup off a no-look pass by James (25 points, 8 boards, 14 dimes in the game, 9 points and 5 assists in the fourth quarter, alone) that gave Cleveland a 102-97 lead and forced Pistons coach StanVanGundy to call timeout.
At that point, KevinLove -- who had piled up 20 points and nine rebounds through three quarters -- was at the table, ready to check in for Frye. Seeing the way the Cavaliers were playing, Lue opted to ride Frye down the stretch -- and his decision worked to perfection.
Frye, who had seven points, seven boards, two assists and a steal in 21 impressive minutes. His putback dunk in the first half produced the biggest feel-good moment of the night.
The best stat of the year for the Cavaliers went up another click in this one -- when Frye plays 11 minutes or more, Cleveland is 18-1, having won 18 in a row. When he plays less than 11 minutes, the Cavaliers are 11-18.
5. The Ghost of J.R.Smith came back to life for a second-straight game. Coming off a season-high 23-point effort in a win against visiting Indiana on Friday night, Smith had 15 points, on a 4-of-7 shooting effort, all from 3, and added four rebounds in 29 productive minutes.