Cleveland Cavaliers trying to deter their longstanding defensive funk –

Against the Rockets, Green was suddenly unstoppable offensively — posting, shooting, filling the lanes in transition — en route to 20 second-quarter points. More important, though, was his ability to guard James Harden effectively on switches, staying in front of the MVP candidate time and time again, and making him shoot over length. Cleveland’s lineup of Green, James, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert and Dwyane Wade got the Cavs back in the game, and Cleveland’s team defense against Harden was as good as anyone could expect — even though Harden finished with a triple-double, he only made 8 of 21 shots from the floor.

1:52Play jeff Green had one of his best games of the season vs. Houston.

It was just one game — one that Cleveland ultimately lost as the Rockets crushed them on the boards in the fourth quarter. At one point, Houston had a basketball power play — five consecutive possessions produced by four straight offensive rebounds. But the Cavs did find something that worked defensively, if just for a while, against a quality opponent. Right now, with Thompson out, that will have to do.

“There were some great moments by our second-quarter lineup that kind of allowed us to stay home with their shooters,” James said, while cautioning that the film would reveal mistakes, too. “We kept bodies on bodies. We was able to rebound when they missed, and we was able to get out and not only run, but execute as well. I think we can take something from it, but I’m looking forward to watching the film as well.”

With the Boston Celtics chemically unable to lose at the moment, first place in the Eastern Conference could already be in danger of going bye-bye by the All-Star break. That didn’t matter last season, of

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