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CLEVELAND — It started with a LeBron James blown windmill jam and a bunch of guys just sort of going through the motions.
But sometime after that, James turned Quicken Loans Arena into his very own playground and the Cleveland Cavaliers sprung to life.
Happy Thanksgiving? It sure should be for the Cavs, who no longer resemble a bunch of basketball turkeys after Wednesday’s 119-109 win over the visiting Brooklyn Nets.
The Cavs (11-7) have won six straight, and while they’re still not always completely focused, they’re at least usually victorious. As an aside, Boston lost to Miami on Wednesday — and suddenly, the Cavs are the league’s hottest team.
James, of course, has gobs to do with all of it.
He scored 23 points in the fourth quarter, making eight of his final nine shots, to finish with 33. This after three quarters in which he sort of slogged around like a man who had consumed too much stuffing, gravy and figgy pudding.
“Twenty-three in the fourth,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “We needed every bit of it.”
As for the first three quarters, well, James would prefer to move on from that bit of madness. Aside from the blown breakaway dunk, he also received an accidental shot to the mouth via Nets center Tyler Zeller. It resulted in a scowl from James and some stitches for his face.
“I told him at halftime he was messing around,” Lue said of James, smiling. “He got a little upset.”
No matter what Lue is saying, things are working. For the ninth time in 10 games, the Cavs have scored at least 110. And for the fifth straight, the bench has contributed at least 40.
Finally, the Cavs are showing the experience, depth and talent everyone expected to see. Lately, they’ve done it without some injured key parts — namely, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose and, of course, Isaiah Thomas.
“I’d say we’re in a better place now,” Cavs forward Kevin Love said. “But we still feel like we have a long way to go. Tonight was ugly.”
Ugly for sure. But unlike some previous similar nights, it was ugly with a W.
Dwyane Wade did plenty to help, scoring 18 points — and continuing to show how dangerous he can be while coming off the bench. In the past five games, Wade is averaging 14.2 points and 6.8 rebounds, and shooting 47 percent.
“He’s been able to control that second unit and be aggressive,” Lue said. “We run everything through him, so that gets him in a better rhythm. I think he enjoys it.”
Love added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the ever-improving Jae Crowder scored 14.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led the Nets (6-11) with 20 points.
Thomas took another step toward his Cavs debut, taking part in a grueling workout during the morning shootaround.
“We know he’s making progress every day, which is good for us,” Lue said. “We’re excited about that. We want to make sure we do what’s best for him health-wise, not coming back too soon.”
Thomas is expected to suit up sometime around late December, but there is a growing sense it could happen sooner.