CLEVELAND — Cavaliers basketball has suddenly become fun again.

Kyle Korver exhibited this Saturday night when he swished consecutive 3-pointers in the second quarter inside Quicken Loans Arena and flashed a smile as he ran back to play defense.

The crowd roared with approval as Korver’s 3s gave the Cavaliers a five-point lead en route to a 117-108 win over the Houston Rockets.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni wasn’t impressed and called a timeout, but Korver’s smile remained as he approached a fired-up Cavs huddle.

“I really believe that this team is still scratching the surface,” Cavs coach Larry Drew said Saturday night. “I still think that there is definitely room to improve, and I really feel that this team is committed to doing that. They are going to stay together.”

The Cavs (4-14) will have another opportunity to improve Monday night when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves (9-11) at 7 p.m.

Cavs rookie point guard Collin Sexton is continuing to develop. He had quality performances in the 121-112 victory over the host Philadelphia 76ers on Friday and in Saturday's win over the Rockets. He had 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field with five rebounds and three assists in 32 minutes against the 76ers, and then scored a career-high 29 points on 14-of-21 shooting from the field with four rebounds and two assists in 34 minutes against the Rockets.

“He is finding a really good rhythm,” Cavs center Tristan Thompson said of Sexton. “I think myself and the other veterans, we are finding ways to make it easier on him in terms of sets that we want to run. Find a package of offensive sets that he likes and that he is comfortable with and that he can read and make plays off.

“We obviously know that with me and him, the pick-and-roll is going to be good because I am going to set the screen and give him an easy look to see where the big is playing. If the big is backed off like [Joel] Embiid was [Friday] night and with [Clint] Capela switching [Saturday night], he is going to use his speed and quickness.”

Thompson registered his ninth double-double of the season Saturday with 16 points and 20 rebounds in 39 minutes after posting a line of 18 points and 13 rebounds in 35 minutes on Friday.

“He’s been a monster,” Drew said of Thompson. “What he has been doing these last few ballgames — he’s been a warrior.”

Drew also said Thompson has “been more vocal than I have ever seen him.”

Rodney Hood, David Nwaba and Cedi Osman are also giving Drew good minutes in a starting lineup that includes Thompson and Sexton, and Jordan Clarkson is emerging as a sixth-man with 19 points Friday and 20 points Saturday.

“He has a scorer's mentality and scorers, they don’t feel that they can be stopped,” Drew said of Clarkson. “Put the ball in their hands and they feel they can get a shot off against anybody.”

Clarkson is also happy with the Cavs' effort in recent games.

“We’re competing, communicating defensively and making shots,” Clarkson said. “Everybody is finding their rhythm right now, especially these last two games. We’ve been playing a fun style of basketball, sharing the ball and getting in transition. The big thing is that we’re getting stops and that leads us to everything else.”

 

Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or mbeaven@thebeaconjournal.com.