CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – It wasn’t pretty, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Not when you’re the Cavaliers having won just five times since Dec. 19.
Make it six.
LeBron James finished 2 rebounds shy of another triple double to finish with 25 points, 8 rebounds and 14 assists as the Cavs used a 23-7 run over the final 6 minutes to pull away late and beat the Pistons 121-104 Sunday evening at Quicken Loans Arena.
“For the most part, throughout 48 minutes, this is one of the best games we’ve had [recently],” James said.
For the first time in a long time the Cavs also appeared to finally have some fun.
There were hugs, smiles, high fives and the bench jumped up and down like a bunch of kids on the playground, a sight not seen much the past few tumultuous weeks.
And it all started with Channing Frye’s put-back dunk off an Isaiah Thomas missed 3 with 7:35 left in the second quarter that caused the bench – led by J.R. Smith – to erupt and race onto the floor to congratulate him when Detroit called a timeout and the Cavs down 40-39.
“Sometimes bang-outs happen,” Frye said. “I said I wasn’t going to dunk for the rest of the year but that one I got my feet right, got up there and exploded. It was tight.”
In the locker room after the game, starting with Frye holding court with reporters, the mood was much lighter than it has been in recent weeks.
“Winning is fun, losing sucks,” Frye said. “If you’re losing and you’re smiling, you need to go find a different locker room.”
They’ve also won back-to-back games for the first time since December.
Detroit, which has now lost eight in a row, did not have two of their top players in Reggie Jackson and Avery Bradly yet managed to hang with the struggling Cavs for much of the afternoon and trailed by just 5 with just under 4 minutes remaining before Cleveland pulled away.
Kevin Love notched a double-double – 20 points and 11 rebounds while Smith made 4 of 7 three-point attempts to finish with 15 points.
“We were able to make plays and get stops when we needed to,” Love said. “Winning’s fun, so I guess you could say we’re having more fun – at least the last two games.”
Isaiah Thomas added 14 in the victory but did not see the floor in the final quarter that saw the Cavs outscore Detroit 31-17.
“We played the right way. We shared the basketball, we played with pace,” head coach Tyronn Lue said.
The Cavs remain a perfect 24-0 when leading or tied heading to the fourth quarter this season.
Frye scored 7 and pulled down 7 rebounds in 21 minutes. Cleveland’s bench outscored Detroit’s 38-26.
“It felt good, better than sitting on the bench I’ll tell you that,” Frye said.
The Cavs shot 50.6 from the field to Detroit’s 42.1 percent.
Ball Movement – When the ball moves, the Cavs typically win.
The Cavs had 27 assists on 42 field goals made Sunday evening marking the 11th time in their last 12 home games they’ve shared the rock at least 25 times on makes.
“When the ball is moving, when the ball is flying around like it was tonight everybody feels happy, feels comfortable and in good rhythm,” James said.
Passing Dirk – James passed Dallas’ Dirk Nowitski for eighth place on the NBA’s all-time field goals made list Sunday.
James, who finished 8 of 15 from the field, now has 10,915 career makes to Nowitzki’s 10,914.
Back Soon – Guard Dwyane Wade is expected to rejoin the Cavs for Tuesday night’s rematch with the Pistons in Detroit according to Lue.
Wade was excused from the team late last week to tend to “a personal matter.” Wade later announced on social media he was mourning the death of his long-time friend and agent Henry Thomas.
Wade, 36, is averaging 11.1 points, 3.9 points and 3.7 assists in 42 games for the Cavs this season.
Bathroom Break – Lue wanted to use Derrick Rose in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s win over Indiana but Rose was unavailable.
Rose admitted on Saturday he needed to use the restroom causing him to be absent from the bench when Lue was ready to call upon him.
“I’m holding that,” Lue said. “If I’m playing that good, I’m going to hold it. Get a couple more shots up.”
Rose, who made six of eight shots and scored 14 points in 15 minutes against the Pacers, scored 2 points but did not make an appearance in the second half Sunday against Detroit.