Deep-Fryed Cavaliers could be cooking again

Channing Frye’s name has been tossed around like a rag doll in recent weeks as the NBA’s trade deadline approaches.

However, judging by what Frye has meant to the Cleveland Cavaliers — his performance in the 121-104 conquest of the visiting Detroit Pistons on Sunday night being just the latest evidence — perhaps general manager Koby Altman should hang on to the veteran big man, his expiring contract not withstanding.

Frye’s feel-good/play-well effort was crucial in helping the Cavaliers forge their first two-game winning streak in six weeks.

His putback, throw-down on a missed 3-pointers midway through the second quarter put a jolt into the entire Cavalier team, guys sprinting off the bench to greet him, led by J.R. Smith, whose leaping hip-bump with Frye almost knocked him to the floor.

“He’s heavy. So when he bumped me I was already tired,” Frye said. “So I just got tired from that. I love celebrating, but just give me a simple handshake or a high-five. So I don’t get sleepy on the bench.”

Smith, who followed up his 23-point effort on Friday night with 15 points, including 4-of-7 shooting from 3, said the Cavaliers (29-19) are back to enjoying themselves.

Isaiah Thomas, who did not play in the fourth quarter after playing perhaps his best game in a Cavalier uniform through three quarters with 14 points and a season-high seven assists, couldn’t help but smile, laugh and celebrate Frye’s efforts.

“I didn’t know who that was jumping like that. I thought it was Jeff Green,” Thomas said through a huge smile. “For him to come out of nowhere, that was big.

“You had Channing with the putback dunk. You had Kyle (Korver) with the off-the-dribble move to the basket. So, a lot was working for us. That was fun to see guys getting up and enjoying the game and just having fun together.”

Frye, who finished with seven points, seven rebounds, two dimes and a steal in 21 minutes, the first time he’s played more than 20 minutes since a win over Chicago back on Dec. 4, admitted times have been a bit tough in Cavalier Country of late.

But the Cleveland dressing room was alive and full of music, smiles and laughter after the victory.

“Winning is fun. Losing sucks,” Frye said. “So yeah, if you’re losing and smiling then, you need to be in a different locker room.”

Frye’s minutes, along with the final result, improved the Cavaliers’ record to 18-1 — with 18 consecutive wins — when he plays 11 minutes or more. When Frye plays less than 11 minutes, Cleveland is 11-18.

Just as importantly, though, is the role Frye has played while the Cavaliers attempt to remain together during a stretch of difficulties since Christmas Day.

“Just policing the locker room, telling the truth even if guys don’t want to hear it,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “Just telling the guys the truth. If they were right or wrong Channing is going to tell the guys that so having him around is great just for the veteran leadership.”

Korver, who played the fourth quarter alongside Frye and was a perfect 3-of-3 from deep during that stretch, said the veteran big man is an important part of the team.

“Channing adds so much to our team and how we play,” Korver said. “We’ve all got strengths and weaknesses, but there’s like a spirit about him that when he’s out there, the balls moving and he can shoot and spaces the floor and he’s talking.

“He’s really excited or he’s really mad at himself. It’s just energy though, like emotions, good emotions that we need.”