Kevin Love's earlier-than-expected return to the Cleveland Cavaliers paid dividends against the Utah Jazz.
Love, who had not played since February 11, logged 20 minutes and came one rebound shy of a double-double (10 points, nine rebounds) to help Cleveland score an important 91-83 win over Utah in his return.
The four-time All-Star was a surprise addition to the starting lineup about an hour before tipoff.
He underwent arthroscopic surgery on February 14 to remove "loose bodies" in his left knee and at the time was given a 6-8 week recovery timeline.
But Love was cleared by team medical staff after participating in drills Tuesday and Wednesday.
Cavaliers general manager David Griffin said earlier this week Love was on track to return during Cleveland's upcoming four-game road trip, which begins Saturday.
Instead, he was able to settle in for a game at Quicken Loans Arena before hitting the road.
Not a moment too soon for the defending NBA champions, who went 7-6 with Love out of the lineup, ceding ground to the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards for the Eastern Conference's top seed.
The Cavaliers, now winners of two in a row, saw both Kyrie Irving (left knee tightness) and Iman Shumpert (sprained left shoulder) exit Thursday's game with injuries, though coach Tyronn Lue said both are "fine" and not expected to miss a game.
Love is in the midst of his best season in Cleveland, averaging 20 points and 11.1 rebounds before the injury.
|Bears sign Cruz to one-year contract|
|LeBron James guns for Michael Jordan record: It´s a personal goal of mine|
|Percival late show hands Saints dramatic derby win|
|Troyes 2 Lorient 1: Late Nivet strike settles play-off first leg|
|Nishikori, Wawrinka survive Geneva scares|
|Wolfsburg 1 Eintracht Braunschweig 0: Gomez penalty earns first-leg lead|
|Ruptured ACL sidelines Siegemund ahead of French Open|
|Gattuso denies return to AC Milan is a step back|
|Gutsy Garcia stays on track in Strasbourg defence|
|Kvitova practises at Roland Garros ahead of participation announcement|
|Man Utd´s Europa League title gave Manchester a lift - Ferguson|
|Carlsson outshines big names at Wentworth|
|Arbeloa, Calleri and Tore leave West Ham|
|Hull City confirm Marco Silva exit|
|I really want a title - Sokratis hints at Dortmund departure|
|Italy include Berardi in experimental squad to face San Marino|
|Man Utd boss Mourinho gets his way on Rashford as Southgate backs down over Under-21s|
|Norwich appoint Farke as Neil´s successor|
|Monk leaves Leeds after Radrizzani takeover|
|Raonic seals Lyon semi-final against Berdych|
|Arsenal must get in Hazard´s face, says Ramsey|
|Disappointed Slater understands Origin snub|
|Sagna departs as Manchester City exodus continues|
|Moses has no plan to stop Arsenal star Sanchez|
|Mathews: Malinga ready to shine in Champions Trophy|
|Van Garderen ends long wait for maiden stage win|
|Caballero the latest to depart Manchester City|
|England boss Southgate explains dropping Rooney|
|Cillessen could consider Barcelona exit in January|
|Navas leaves Manchester City|
|Kohli: England have no weaknesses|
|Djokovic enjoys first session with Agassi at Roland Garros|
|Man Utd captain Rooney: I have lots of offers|
|F1 Raceweek: Hamilton eyes ´unreal´ milestone, Ricciardo has unfinished business|
|Manchester City confirm Clichy departure|
|Mandzukic extends Juventus deal to 2020|
|Suarez out for 15 days with thigh injury|
|Ronaldo in Portugal´s Confederations Cup squad as Sanches misses out|
|Totti confirms Genoa will be his final Roma game|
|´Arsenal win would be a shock – Mertesacker is playing!´|
|Playing with Cristiano Ronaldo still hasn´t sunk in, says new Real Madrid signing Vinicius Junior|
|Liverpool goalkeeper Manninger to retire|
|He loves us! – Levy certain Pochettino will stay at Tottenham|
|London extends ATP Tour Finals deal until 2020|
|Rooney left out of England squad to play Scotland and France|
|Herrera would welcome Griezmann at Manchester United|
|Wales have great opportunity after avoiding group of death - North|
|City and United join forces with £1m donation to Manchester emergency fund|
|Robshaw and Ford to lead inexperienced England|
|Iniesta unsure over long-term Barcelona future|
|Kumble future uncertain as India advertise for new head coach|
|Makelele role is now the Kante role - Chelsea icon Claude passes baton to N´Golo|
|Bourdais walks out of hospital as recovery continues|
|Tennis Australia distances itself from Court´s marriage equality comments|
|Willian wants Chelsea stay amid Manchester United rumours|
|Beale to be rested for Australia Test series|
|Boateng rules out Bayern exit|
|Klopp wants Liverpool transfer dealings wrapped up as soon as possible|
|Andretti backs Alonso for Indy 500 glory|
|Barcelona express Messi support after lost appeal|
|Valverde a good option for Barcelona – Pique|
|Rizzo blasts two homers to lead Cubs past Giants|
|Pogba: I´d be very happy if Juve won Champions League|
|Smith plays down Ashes boycott amid ongoing pay dispute|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Palmeiras, Wilstermann progress|
|Chinese FA cracks down on soaring transfer fees to place Costa deal in doubt|
|Mata and Smalling describe extra Europa League motivation after Manchester attacks|
|Barba makes St Helens move|
|Cavs coach Lue says Celtics more difficult to defend than Warriors|
|Herrera dedicates Europa League trophy to Manchester victims|