March 5 (UPI) -- MIAMI -- The Cleveland Cavaliers finally showed some fight Saturday night -- but only after the game was over.
As the game ended, Cavaliers shooting guard J.R. Smith, who was in street clothes because of a thumb injury, had to be held back -- first by an assistant coach and then by a referee -- from fighting with Heat players, particularly Rodney McGruder and Dion Waiters.
Apparently, the Cavaliers were upset with the aftermath of a dunk by McGruder on Channing Frye, who led Cleveland with 21 points.
"They took offense to something," Heat guard Tyler Johnson said. "But it was nothing."
"I guess there was some extracurricular," Frye said. "Tempers flared. It is what it is -- it's not really a story."
The teams play again Monday night in Cleveland. James and Irving are expected to return to the lineup for that game, which could be emotionally charged.
Miami made 18 3-pointers, the most by Miami this season and the second-most in franchise history. Miami made 18 of 34 on 3-pointers. The Heat franchise record is 19 3-pointers.
The Heat (29-34), which won 18 of its past 22 games, kept pace with the Detroit Pistons in the battle for the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons, who routed the Philadelphia 76ers earlier Saturday, lead Miami by 1 1/2 games.
Miami won 12 straight games in Miami against Cleveland and the Cavaliers are 0-5 here since James left the Heat.
Cleveland (42-19), the reigning NBA champion who has the best record in the Eastern Conference, is 98-34 the past two years with James in the lineup. Without James, the Cavaliers are 1-10 during that span, including 0-5 this season.
"We have a lot of good players," said Cavs forward Derrick Williams, who started this season with Miami. "But that doesn't mean we're going to win every night."
The absence of James, who won two NBA titles with the Heat before bolting back to the Cavaliers in the summer of 2014, surely disappointed many Miami fans. And it's happened before -- this is the second time in Cleveland's past three visits in which the Cavaliers opted to rest James.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said he chose to rest James after he scored 38 points in 39 draining minutes on Friday in a 135-130 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Irving scored 43 points in 36 minutes in that game.
In addition to Saturday's loss, the Cavaliers suffered an injury when Heat forward James Johnson accidentally elbowed Iman Shumpert, Cleveland's shooting guard. Shumpert left the game with two chipped teeth.
Cleveland, which led by as many as eight points early, settled for a 35-35 score at the end of the first quarter despite shooting 68.4 percent.
Miami closed the second quarter on an 18-4 run, taking a 67-51 lead into halftime. The Heat outscored Cleveland 34-24 in the third quarter, taking full control of the game. And the Cavaliers were never able to threaten in the fourth ... at least until Smith tried to charge at Heat players.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said it was an "unfortunate" incident.
"We were just trying to get out of there," Spoelstra said. "It was much ado about nothing.
"If anybody knows Rodney, he was just out there competing. He is going to compete every possession. But he was not trying to show up anybody."
NOTES: Heat SG Tyler Johnson and PG Goran Dragic took hard fouls in the second and third quarters, respectively, but remained in the game. ... Cavs SF Kyle Korver started his first game of the season. ... Cavs PG Deron Williams, signed Feb. 27 after he was released by the Dallas Mavericks, made his first start for Cleveland. ... Cavs SF James Jones, a former Heat player and Miami native, made his second start of the season. ... PF Tristan Thompson is the only player on the Cavs who started every game this season. ... Cavs PF Kevin Love (left knee) and SG J.R. Smith (right thumb) are expected back by early April. ... C Andrew Bogut, whose contract was bought out by the Philadelphia 76ers, is expected to make his Cavs debut Monday.