After Friday's gutty 117-109 victory over the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center, the Cavaliers players were tweeting birthday wishes to owner Dan Gilbert.

The thing is, they'd already given him what he most wanted -- steady improvement as shown by a 3-2 trip and a 4-2 record in their last six games.

"3-2 on the trip & 4-2 in last 6 is solid progress,'' Gilbert tweeted. "Not near satisfied but moving in right direction. Thanks for your support @cavs fans.''

Coach Mike Brown was beaming after his players battled the final three games of this trip following the worst loss in the NBA this season -- 44 points -- at Sacramento on Sunday.

"I told the guys the thing I was the most proud of was we went into Sacramento and we got our behinds handed to us and the sky was falling in everybody's opinion -- even people close to the group,'' Brown said as the Cavs improved to 15-25, 5-17 on the road. "Our guys did a nice job of just staying the course, staying the course, staying in the circle, and making sure we had each other's back, because on the road basically it's us against the world. I was proud of our guys for doing that, figuring out how to get a win [in the next game against the Lakers], competing up in Portland, having a chance to win that down the stretch, and then coming in here in a tough place to play and get a win.''

Kyrie Irving finished with 23 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds, andTristan Thompson added 20 points and 10 rebounds, 9 in the second half. C.J. Miles had 19 points, including four clutch free throws in the final 22 seconds. Luol Deng added 18 points and Anderson Varejao contributed 7 points, 16 rebounds and 7 assists. Jarrett Jack had 13 points and 4 rebounds off the bench. Cleveland held a 49-41 edge on the boards and a 50-44 advantage in the paint.

Wilson Chandler had 23 points, including five 3-pointers, for the short-handed Nuggets, 20-19, who were without Darrell Arthur (hip), Danilo Gallinari (knee) and JaVale McGee (tibia stress fracture). Nate Robinson and Ty Lawson added 19 points apiece and nearly brought the Nuggets back late in the game.

Denver cut Cleveland's 14-point third-quarter lead to 105-100 on a 3-pointer by Robinson. Varejao turned over an inbounds pass to Lawson, who fed Robinson for a layup that got the Nuggets within 105-102 with 3:19 left.

Brown immediately took a timeout, and Jack took control in the huddle.

"I just pulled everybody together and was just telling everybody, 'Hey, we're right here. We're going to go through some adverse situations. This is what we want. We want to be able to respond. We want to be a battle-tested ball club. This is where you see what we're made of. There are 20,000 people here against us 15 people. Let's go out here, we still have control of the game, we still have the lead. Let's execute and come down and get a stop and do what we do,''' Jack said.