Cavaliers welcome back players, but thoughts still with absent coach Tyronn Lue

CLEVELAND -- After a 120-95 win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night capped a 3-0 week for the Cleveland Cavaliers since Tyronn Lue took a health-related leave of absence, acting head coach Larry Drew said the situation has motivated the team.

"Sometimes you have to play the hand that's dealt to you," Drew said after Cleveland's fifth win in six games. "And certainly, it was unfortunate what happened with Coach Lue. And the way our guys have responded ... You go through the course of a season, and you deal with a lot of different things. And when you do that, you don't know whether you're going to be able to overcome it.

"And I think for our team, we really rallied, No. 1, around Coach Lue, when the organization made the decision that he was going to step away for a few games. We rallied around him. We rallied around one another."

Lue had been dealing with chest pains and other serious symptoms, including coughing up blood, compounded by a loss of sleep for the majority of the season. A team source said he has had success sleeping with more regularity since he took his leave.

Lue was not with the team Saturday, according to a source, as the Cavaliers traveled to New York for Sunday's game against the Brooklyn Nets. That starts a three-game road trip which includes contests at Miami and Charlotte. Lue will not coach Sunday's game, the source said.

Even if Lue missed the Nets game, he could travel to Miami and reunite with the team for the remainder of the trip, as he'll be evaluated on a game-by-game basis, multiple sources close to Lue said.

With Lue on the mend, Cleveland beat the playoff-contending Milwaukee Bucks to start the week, then took care of the East's No. 1 team, the Toronto Raptors, on Wednesday and finished with a rout of the league-worst Suns.

The Phoenix victory coincided with the Cavs' welcoming back three injured players -- Larry Nance Jr. (15 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists), Rodney Hood (9 points, 3 rebounds) and Tristan Thompson (4 points, 10 rebounds).

"All three guys, it was great to have bodies that looked good," said LeBron James, who kept up his recent tear with 27 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds before sitting out the fourth quarter. "Before we even ran out, our huddle was almost complete, so it was a good step in the right direction."

With just 10 regular-season games remaining, Drew said the Cavs' final stretch will be of utmost importance.

"These last 10 games, to me, are very critical games for our guys who have been out," Drew said. "This is going to be the first time where we're really going to get our whole team together. Cedi (Osman) is still out, but hopefully we'll get him back soon. But these last 10 games, that's exactly what we're going to be using them for."

The rookie Osman has missed the Cavs' past seven games with a hip flexor injury. The only other player currently missing from Cleveland's rotation is Kyle Korver, who is excused after the death of his younger brother, Kirk, this week.

"Ten games is enough time when you have your whole team back for the first time all season, it gives you an opportunity to, No. 1, establish some type of rotation that you're going to be using. Two, these guys are for the first time all playing together," Drew said. "They get to really get a feel for one another. Ten games is not a lot, but for us, we're not going to be greedy at this point because we've gone through what we've gone through, as far as a personnel standpoint. Now we'll be getting everybody back. Whether it's 10 games, whether it's five games, we have to take those games and really use them to our advantage."

While Cleveland appears to have momentum on its side after a topsy-turvy 43-29 start, James cautioned that the Cavs aren't out of the woods yet.

"I mean, listen, I'm staying even keel because you can have a great week like this week, and then you can have a horrible week next week," James said. "I'll stay even keel. Listen, we got better this week. We played well this week. We won some really good games versus teams that are at the top, teams that are at the bottom, and we worked our habits. We just want to continue to not get too high about what we just accomplished. We did what we wanted to do, and we want to try to continue to do that going into next week."

Drew, however, reasoned that even getting to this point without going completely off the rails was an accomplishment in itself.

"When you look at our year and everything that has happened, we have persevered," Drew said. "And to me, that's a sign of a team that is mentally strong and a team that is mentally capable. Personally, I'm very proud of how they've responded to everything. They could've gone the other way, but they didn't. They've responded very well."