CLEVELAND (Ohio) • Larry Nance Jr. made a superb first start for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night, scoring a career-high 22 points and 15 rebounds, which clearly impressed star forward LeBron James.
"High-energy plays is what he's all about," James told ESPN of Nance, following the Cavaliers' 112-90 National Basketball Association (NBA) triumph over the Detroit Pistons.
"He's very fast, athletic and puts himself in a position to be successful on the floor.
"He's always in the right spots, and, for us, if we break the defence down, just try to put it up there for him on a lob or if the defenders are sagging off on him, we try to get him the ball where he can get his shots.
"He makes a lot of energy and effort plays by just being himself, and it results in good things for our team."
James, who combined with Nance to score Cleveland's first 20 points, poured in 31 points in total as the Cavs improved to 37-26.
LeBron James and Larry Nance Jr (above) hit it off instantly, combining for Cleveland's first 20 points.
Nance, who arrived in Cleveland in a Feb 8 trade with the Los Angeles Lakers, started at centre in place of Tristan Thompson, who sprained an ankle against Denver on Saturday.
"It just kind of felt easy," Nance said. "The guys were giving me all the opportunities in the world to make my shots, and I just happened to be making them."
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said the 25-year-old will start all games in the absence of Thompson.
"He's starting now," said Lue, who previously revealed that Thompson would likely miss the team's six-game road trip starting today (tomorrow, Singapore time) against the Denver Nuggets.
Blake Griffin led Detroit with 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but the Pistons (29-35) dropped their third straight and have now lost nine of their last 11.
They are ninth in the Eastern Conference, five games out of the play-off positions with the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks in seventh and eighth.
In Chicago, the Boston Celtics did not feel the absence of star point guard Kyrie Irving in a 105-89 victory over the Bulls (21-42).
With Irving nursing a sore knee, Boston (45-20) scored the first seven points en route to a 35-16 lead after one quarter.
Jaylen Brown scored 21 points for Boston, who led by as many as 37 on the way to a fifth win in six games.
The Celtics are 11/2 games behind the Toronto Raptors for the Eastern Conference lead.