The 76ers are smiling.

Not just the players and not just the coaches, but the support staff and the front office, too.

And they should be smiling.

Because the Sixers, who defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 117-97, on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, actually look like a decent basketball team.

The Sixers, who have won five consecutive home games, improved to 7-14. The Cavaliers, who have lost five straight, dropped to 7-14.

It's been two years since the Sixers, winners of four of their last five games, looked this good.

Asked to recall the last time his team was playing this well, Sixers forward Thaddeus Young grinned and shook his head.

"It's been a while," said Young, who finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds. "It's been a while since we felt this good. We're playing together, we're going out there, and we're battling and competing."

After starting the season at an NBA-worst 3-13, the Sixers have pulled themselves out of the Eastern Conference basement and into its middle tier.

It may not be headline-grabbing, but it's pushing this thing in the right direction.

"I was a little bit worried at the start of the game; the building was very quiet," Sixers coach Doug Collins said of the half-filled arena. "I said, 'We're going to have to create our own energy here.' "

The Sixers created a lot of everything, finishing the first quarter with 35 points and building an early double-digit lead.

On a three pointer by Jodie Meeks with 9 minutes, 1 second left in the third quarter, the Sixers led by 76-56.

The Cavaliers would never threaten again.

The Sixers' lead reached 23 points near the end of the third quarter and 22 points at various times in the fourth.

All five starters for the Sixers finished in double figures: Meeks and Jrue Holiday scored 16 points, Spencer Hawes 10, Elton Brand 12, and Andre Iguodala 13.

Lou Williams and Young shot 16 for 22 from the floor and combined for 45 points.

Young finished the night 11 for 12 from the field, 3 for 3 from the free-throw line, and - on an end-of-shot-clock heave - 1 for 1 from beyond the arc. Young stockpiled points by driving to the rim and finishing in transition.

"That three-point line, I told him, is like the electric fence you put in the yard for your dog," joked Collins about how he coached Young. "You get across and it shocks you. So stay inside it, stay inside that line."

In two previous games against the Cavaliers, the Sixers were 0-2, getting repeatedly tangled in Cleveland's web of screens.

"We just had to say, 'Look, OK, we have to have energy, we have to go out there and beat them,' " Young said. "Because they've gotten us already and we had to stop it, put an end to it. And we played great."

On Tuesday night, the Sixers and Cavaliers left the Wells Fargo Center with identical records.

But they seemed like teams heading in opposite directions.

Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at 856-779-3844 or kfagan@phillynews.com.