CLEVELAND -- As the Cleveland Cavaliers worked their way through struggles during the month of January and into early February, they appeared to be a collection of individual talents that could not function as a team and the lack of enjoyment was prevalent throughout the locker room.
There were reports of team meetings, which allegedly broke down into the worst in league history, discord among the top stars and problems with the front office, but after arriving in one of three trades that turned over the roster last Thursday, forward Larry Nance Jr. has seen the complete opposite.
“There’s a lot of energy,” Nance said following Tuesday’s 120-112 road win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. “There’s a lot of guys helping each other, making up, scrambling around so if one guy gets beat, then the guy steps up and the next guy steps up. There’s a whole lot of teamwork going on.”
PHOTOS: Cleveland Cavaliers get redemption win over Oklahoma City Thunder ahead of All-Star break
In just his second game with the Cavaliers, Clarkson knocked down six of his 10 shots from the field, and his lone three-pointer of the game came essentially on the run in the waning minutes of the game.
With the Cavaliers holding a 108-100 advantage with just 3:23 to play in the fourth quarter, Nance hustled after and batted out an offensive rebound toward the three-point line, where Clarkson caught the ball, and in one motion, buried the triple.
Then, with 11.6 seconds left in the game, guard J.R. Smith chased down a defensive rebound, and while falling out of bounds along the end line, hoisted a pass three-quarters of the way down the court. Nance sprinted after the ball and threw down a dunk that made it a seven-point game.
Nance’s dunk gave him 13 points on the game. Then, of Nance’s nine rebounds, eight were on the offensive end of the floor. Also, Nance handed out two assists, stole one pass and blocked two shots in the redemption victory over a Thunder team that blew out the Cavaliers, 148-124, two weeks ahead of the roster reconstruction.
“That’s what I do,” Nance said of his activity on the glass. “That’s what they brought me here to do, so what else would I be doing, you know?
“It was great. I felt like I fit right in, and it was just fun. It was fun.”
Nance believes the positivity he has seen from the Cavaliers is the reason the team is on a four-game winning streak, their longest since a five-game run of success in early December, and he is willing to do whatever is asked of him to keep things going in a positive direction.
“As long as everybody does the little things to affect winning, I think nobody cares who gets the credit at the end of the day, and that’s huge,” Nance said.
“All it is, is just playing hard and making the right plays. If you do those two things, you can go play on any team in the league and fit right in. I know for myself, that’s what I wanted to focus on, just come in and make sure I’m out there making winning plays. Whether it shows up in the stat book, I don’t care, but deflections, offensive rebounds, charges, blocks, whatever it may be, whatever the team needs, it’s what I’m doing.”