CLEVELAND: Before tipoff Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said that a contributing factor to his teamís rut has been the inability to put four quarters together.
Against the 76ers, they needed just two in a 122-105 win at Quicken Loans Arena.
The victory, coupled with the Boston Celticsí win over the Orlando Magic, kept the Cavs a half-game behind the Celtics in the Eastern Conference.
The Cavs spent the first quarter building on momentum. By the time the 2:26 mark of the second quarter and the second of two LeBron James monster dunks arrived, they had the game in hand.
James led all scorers with 34 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out six assists. Guard Kyrie Irving added 24 points and nine assists as part of a dominating performance by the Cavs who at one point led by 31.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot led the Sixers with 19 points and four rebounds along with Richaun Holmes, who added seven rebounds.
The Cavs gave fans little to quibble with as they rolled to a big lead. Lue was worried about a complete game and he got exactly what he needed for three quarters and the Cavs had the game in hand.
In the fourth quarter, in which a rusty second unit took over to give the teamís starters some much appreciated rest, the Sixers chipped away at the Cavsí 104-77 lead.
The 76ers outscored the Cavs 28-18 and cut the lead to 16 before two Channing Frye jump shots, including a 3-pointer, put it away for the Cavs.
In the first three quarters, the Cavsí frontline players put March in their rear-view mirror. If the Cavs were going to break from that 31-day funk, they needed the Big Three to step up their games. James, Irving and Kevin Love combined for 76 points.
The Cavs outshot the 76ers 53 percent to 49 percent. Unlike in recent efforts, the lackadaisical defense vanished. That 49 percent looks high, but for much of the game the Cavsí defense looked respectable. They outrebounded the 76ers 49-42.
The first of three home games before a big road game against the Celtics, could represent a step toward correcting the problems that have plagued the Cavs in recent weeks.
George M. Thomas can be reached at email@example.com.