Cleveland (41-29) have opened a 1.5-game lead over Indiana atop the Central Division in the race for the No. 3 seed with the Pacers and Philadelphia as they look to push their winning streak to five games. The Cavaliers overwhelmed the Phoenix Suns with a huge second quarter en route to a 120-95 rout of Phoenix on Friday night.
LeBron James had 27 points and nine assists in three quarters of work as the Cavaliers also took a huge step towards being fully healthy. Larry Nance Jr. had 15 points and ten rebounds off the bench after missing four games with a sore hamstring, and Rodney Hood chipped in nine points after missing six of the last seven games with a lower back injury. Tristan Thompson, who was sidelined for nine games with a sprained ankle, had four points and nine boards.
The only regulars from the rotation who missed the win were Kyle Korver, who is on bereavement leave and Cedi Osman, who is sidelined with a strained hip flexor. Coach Tyronn Lue is also absent as he deals with health issues, but he has been in constant contact with the acting coach Larry Drew.
The Nets (23-50) have slipped to last in the Atlantic Division, three games behind the New York Knicks with ten games remaining. Brooklyn hit the 50-loss mark for the third straight season after a 116-112 loss at Toronto on Friday night, blowing a double-digit lead for the second consecutive contest.
D'Angelo Russell had 18 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds for his first career triple-double, and six players were in double figures for the Nets, but they were the latest team to be shut down in the fourth quarter by the East-leading Raptors. Toronto limited Brooklyn to one basket in an 8:08 span as the Nets squandered an eight-point lead.