Cleveland Cavaliers forward/center Anderson Varejao had the best rebounding game of his career on Tuesday, Oct. 30 in Cleveland.
On a night when the Cavaliers displayed its backcourt of the future, Varejao had an impact in every aspect of the game for Cleveland, who relinquished a 16-point lead in the second half prior to holding on to defeat the shorthanded Washington Wizards 94-84 in the opening contest of the NBA schedule.
After missing the second half of last season with a broken wrist, Varejao came back to play his first home game of this season and had a career-high 23 rebounds. Point guard Kyrie Irving had 29 points and rookie swingman Dion Waiters scored 17 for Cleveland, who depended on big plays from Varejao and Irving in the last few minutes to keep the Wizards at bay.
Varejao, the 6-foot-11 energetic Brazilian, also scored nine points and had a career-high nine assists, two of which set up slam dunks by Tristan Thompson in the final two minutes.
The Wizards were led by Jordan Crawford, who scored 11 points. They played without point guard John Wall, forward Kevin Seraphin, and power forward Nene. Wall has a knee injury and is expected to be out of the lineup until late November. The No. 1 overall pick was sorely missed as rookie guard Bradley Beal and A.J. Price combined to shoot four of 21 from the field.
All eight of Beal's points came in the first half and Emeka Okafor had ten points for the game. Wizards' head coach Randy Wittman has high expectations for his team, but it will be difficult for him to adequately determine what he really has until he gets Wall and Nene, who is sidelined with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, back on the floor.
Irving, the NBA's current rookie of the year, started his second season with a superb performance along with his teammate Waiters, who went to the Cavaliers with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 draft. Waiters was never a starter at Syracuse, but head coach Byron Scott was so impressed with his progress during training camp, that he decided to pair his two young guards together from the beginning of the season.
The two of them played well sporadically, combining for 46 points and eight boards. However, they made their fair share of mistakes. Like most young backcourts, it could take a while for them to play well together.