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Tristan Thompson bringing consistency to a team that's been anything but

CLEVELAND -- If there's one legitimate gripe worth mentioning through the Cleveland Cavaliers' 9-3 start, it has been their inconsistency. They've had games where they've blown leads. They've had games where they were seemingly sleepwalking until something clicked and they rallied late. Executing four complete quarters has been a rarity.

Thursday was one of those games where they actually put everything together in a 115-100 win over the Milwaukee Bucks and it came, quite appropriately, on the same night Tristan Thompson played in his 300th consecutive game.

You want consistency? Look no further than the man the Cavs call "Double-T."

He suited up for the Bucks game the same way he has done for every game on the schedule the last three-plus seasons. And he crashed the boards, defended multiple positions and chipped in some offense by knowing where to be when his teammates had the ball the same way he has done whether Byron Scott, Mike Brown or David Blatt was his coach.

"I think it's unbelievable," LeBron James said of Thompson's streak.

Blatt described just how valuable it is having Thompson automatically available to plug into the lineup.

"I know this: He got banged [up] pretty good in the last game," Blatt said. "And the trainer was talking to me about it, and I said you know, 'Is he going to be all right to play tonight?' He looked at me like I was crazy. 'What? Are you kidding me? Of course he's going to be out there. It's Tristan.'

"It's great to know that a guy like that always wants to put the jersey on and get out there and help you. And he is that kind of guy, too. He is a warrior. He is going to give you everything he has, if he's right, not right. And if there's a way for him to play he will play. There's no quit in that guy at all. No days off in his character, that's just not the way he rolls."

James was a little edgy this week with the Cavs dropping consecutive games in Milwaukee and Detroit. After the loss to the Pistons, James went as far as to say "we got some guys who'll do it and some guys that don't do it" in regard to coming prepared to play the right way.

While James didn't name names, it's safe to say he wasn't referring to Thompson, who proved his worth even more so against Milwaukee after Timofey Mozgov went out because of a strained shoulder in the first half and had to sit out the rest of the game. Thompson took his place in the starting lineup after halftime and Cleveland barely skipped a beat, thanks in no small part to Thompson's 12 points and 11 rebounds in only 26 minutes.

"The mind's a powerful thing," Thompson said when asked before the game about reaching 300. "The mind's a very powerful thing and if you trick or tell your brain, 'Everything is all right,' even though you know you might have little bumps and bruises, you'd be surprised on the stuff you can achieve. I think that's what makes professional athletes so great. We have the mental toughness to push through our limits. That's how you become great and kind of really test yourself as a player."

Since missing six games in his rookie season because of a sprained ankle, Thompson said there has been only one game he even considered missing after coming down with food poisoning in Los Angeles the night before playing the Clippers. "Two hours before the game I had like IVs pumping inside me," Thompson recalled. "But I had to keep the streak alive and be able to compete and play with my teammates. That's what it's about."

And it's that attitude that had James endorsing the idea of Thompson sticking with the Cavs for the rest of his career and Cleveland ultimately acquiescing to that wish with a five-year, $82 million extension that might have seemed disproportionate when you looked at Thompson's averages. But then again, out of the entire NBA, only DeAndre Jordan can say he has played more games in a row.

Thompson became the fourth Cavs player whose consecutive games streak reached the 300s and trails only Jim Chones (361), Austin Carr (351) and Danny Ferry (301) for the all-time franchise mark.

"With all the injuries that I had, I had a lot of nights where I was maybe 80 percent and not 100 percent, but I wanted to keep my streak because of the way I started," Carr, who is now a color analyst on the Cavs broadcasts, told ESPN.com. "So, I didn't want to let a little pulled muscle or little pain get in the way of things. If it wasn't broken, I was going to play ...

"I used to remember Butch Beard and them would come to me and go, 'We need you tonight.' I'm sitting there, 'Boy, I just had a knee operation, my knee is as big as a balloon,' but I'd strap it up and I'd go out and play."

Being that the Cavs were wearing throwback jerseys from the 1970s on Thursday, James was asked which former Cleveland player he would have liked to have teamed up with most.

His answer was fitting. "Austin Carr," James said. "That was easy."

It's no wonder what James sees in Thompson. He straps it up and goes out and plays when James needs him.