After a slow start to the season, the Cleveland Cavaliers are starting to play more like the defending Eastern Conference champions.

Following their most lopsided win in more than 13 years, the Cavaliers will be trying to extend their longest winning streak of the season on Friday when they host the Pacific Division-leading Phoenix Suns.

The Cavaliers (23-18) were 9-12 on Dec. 8 after a six-game losing streak, but have bounced back nicely. Cleveland has won nine of its last 10 and five straight, including a 121-85 win over Washington on Wednesday - it largest margin of victory since beating the Los Angeles Lakers by 38 on Nov. 30, 1994.

The Cavs set season highs in assists (39) and field-goal percentage (56.6), and they outscored the Wizards 43-17 in the third quarter. Cleveland shot 70 percent in the third while setting a Quicken Loans Arena record for points in a quarter.

The Cavaliers also set an arena record for assists and had a season-low six turnovers, becoming the first team since 1977-78 - when turnovers became an official statistic - to have at least 39 assists and six or fewer turnovers.

"For some odd reason, we get to the point where we just say it's time to play great basketball," said LeBron James, who had 23 points. "I understand what it takes to win, and my guys know what it takes to win and when to crank it up. Great teams know when to crank it up."

Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 24 points on 10-of-10 shooting, becoming just the second player in team history not to miss a shot on at least 10 attempts. Johnny Warren went 12-of-12 on Dec. 14, 1973, against Buffalo.

"It was very important that we closed this game out, knowing that we have Phoenix (on Friday)," James said.

"With 39 assists against Phoenix we can easily win. With 39 assists against any team we can win no matter how powerful or strong we are offensively. We just have to do the same things we've been doing."

Cleveland will be short-handed for this matchup because Sasha Pavlovic sprained his left foot in the third quarter Wednesday and could miss up to two months. He's averaging 7.3 points and has started 35 games this season.

His absence leaves the Cavs without one of their better perimeter players against the up-tempo Suns (30-13), who lead the NBA with 110.0 points per game. Phoenix is in a virtual tie with New Orleans atop the Western Conference standings.

The Suns have won 14 of 17 against the Cavaliers, including a 103-92 victory in Phoenix on Nov. 4 behind Steve Nash's 30 points and 10 assists. Phoenix won its only trip to Cleveland last season after losing the previous two.

The Suns are coming off a 117-107 loss in Minnesota, ending a four-game winning streak.

The loss was the second this season against the Timberwolves, who own the worst record in the NBA.

"It's all about consistency. Some nights we are one of the best in the league, other nights it is just not the same. You have to do it on an every-game basis," said Amare Stoudemire, who had 33 points, but only 19 in the last 43 minutes.

"It may bite us. It is a tight race in the West. It definitely hurts to lose twice to the Timberwolves."


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