CLEVELAND -- Things are not better for the Cleveland Cavaliers just because they beat the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night.
But maybe it can be said that the defending champions are moving in that direction after a 122-105 win to snap a three-game losing streak.
"We needed this game, we needed to get this win," said Kyrie Irving, who was among the more vocal Cavs during a rough March in which the team went 7-10 overall and lost five of seven before beating the Sixers.
"We all understood that and we've got to keep building from here and not look back. Our process was probably started about 5-6 days ago, a week ago, and now the seed's been planted and now it's just going to grow. So I'm excited about out it."
LeBron James scored 34 points to go with nine rebounds and six assists in just 30 minutes. Kevin Love added 18 points and 10 boards. James played 89 seconds and Love and Irving not at all in the fourth quarter of the blowout.
Cleveland led by as many as 32 points in this one. On Thursday, the Cavaliers finished a brutal stretch of six of seven games on the road, with visits to every time zone in the continental United States.
Cleveland has a tougher test waiting Sunday at home when the Indiana Pacers visit.
The Cavaliers are still a half-game behind Boston for first place in the Eastern Conference after the Celtics beat Orlando on Friday.
"On the court, our chemistry took a hit. Our camaraderie didn't," James said. "But at the end of the day we have to fix it and we're here to fix it. This is what we have and we know that, so as we continue to get our guys healthy and we continue to get into the flow of things, we'll figure it out."
This season has been another long April Fool's joke for the Sixers, who dressed just nine players because of an unending stream of injuries.
Richaun Holmes and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot each scored 19 points and Shawn Long added 16 off the bench for Philadelphia.
The Cavaliers outscored the Sixers 38-23 in the second quarter and led 70-52 at halftime.
"They were just able to get out into the open court," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "I think they played at a championship level. They were able to take their frustrations out on us, and were able to score too freely in the second quarter."
Irving, all 6 feet 3 and 193 pounds of him, took on the rare role (for him) of enforcer in the first quarter. Philadelphia's Justin Anderson had knocked James to the deck just after the game started, so Irving two-hand shoved Anderson out of bounds with 10:41 left in the quarter. He was assessed a flagrant-1 foul.
"I'm still not that, but whether it was malicious or not when I was in the play -- I caught the tail end of it -- I kinda saw Justin kinda lower his shoulder and knock down Bron," Irving said. "That kinda took me out of the play and I was like I hope he doesn't get the basketball again.
"I gotta do something, I've got to protect my brother. A lot of late hits on Bron, a lot of guys trying to get one over on him. It's over for that, it's over for that."
NOTES: The Sixers announced C Jahlil Okafor (sore right knee) and F Robert Covington (torn right meniscus) are out for the remainder of the season. Okafor was injured March 22 and had missed the past four games. His knee has been sore since surgery last March. An MRI showed Covington had a "slight" meniscus tear. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jerryd Bayless already suffered season-ending injuries for the Sixers. ... Cavaliers F Richard Jefferson (left knee tendinitis) and G Kyle Korver (left foot soreness) were out. Jefferson didn't play Thursday against the Bulls and Korver has missed three straight. ... Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said before the game that players' only meetings after the team's losses to San Antonio on Monday and Chicago on Thursday can only accomplish so much. "We can talk all we want, but until we perform it means nothing," Lue said. ... Sixers F/C Tiago Splitter made his Philadelphia debut. He was acquired in a Feb. 22 trade from the Hawks.