The Cleveland Cavaliers blew out the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night at Quicken Loans Arena for a rare moment of succor in a harsh winter. LeBron James and Kevin Love both had big games while the Cavaliers got help from their bench, too. It was the kind of all-round effort that’s been missing during the New Year slide.
One good game, though, doesn’t mean Cleveland’s problems are suddenly all cleared up. Isaiah Thomas remains one of them. Tyronn Lue didn’t play his point guard at all during the fourth quarter of the 121-104 win. The Cavaliers pulled further away from the Pistons in that fourth quarter with a 31-17 stretch to win their second game of the weekend. They beat the Indiana Pacers 115-108 on Friday.
Thomas, who recorded a season-high seven assists in 27 minutes of playing time, didn’t sound happy afterwards about being benched. "I don't know. What do you want me to say?" Thomas told reporters including ESPN. "I'm just glad we won."
Thomas, whose Cavaliers debut was delayed until the start of January as he recovered from a hip injury, hasn’t exactly been on-message during the Cavaliers’ slump. On Saturday he hit back at suggestions he is the player responsible for the Cleveland’s awful defensive record. “When I come back, it's my fault now [team defense],” Thomas told Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “Which, life isn't fair, but that's not fair, bro. At all. I just laugh at those things because I know in this circle and this team, everybody believes in each other, and everybody's in here for it to work and for us to be playing in June. That's the ultimate goal."
After the Cavaliers’ worst defensive performance of the season, against the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 20, Thomas said his old Boston Celtics team “played a lot harder” than the Cavaliers. "I think on that end [defense] we do not trust each other, and that has to change," Thomas said in quotes reported by MassLive.com.