Reporting Matt Loede
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) - Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said before the opening night tilt with the Washington Wizards he was “anxious” to see how his young team would react in their first game.
Consider it a success.
Led by last seasons Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers began the season with a solid 94-84 win over the short-handed Washington Wizards.
Washington, who won one less game than the Cavs a year ago, were without their leader on the floor in John Wall, who remains out with a knee injury.
The Cavs also had the advantage inside with the Wizards missing Nene, who didn’t play due to a a foot injury.
The victory wasn’t as easy as it could have been, as the Cavs had at one point a 13-point lead in the second half, only to see them trailing 76-74 in the fourth quarter with 8:12 left.
From that point, they rallied with the starters back in the game, and they wound up the game outscoring the Wizards 20-8 over the final eight plus minutes
Irving was the star of the night, putting up a game high 29 points, with six rebounds and three assists.
The Cavs also got nine from Anderson Varajeo, who they need badly to stay healthy this season if they want to have a lot of success.
Varajeo was a rebounding machine, grabbing 22 rebounds to go along with 9 assists. He helped the Cavaliers outrebound the Wizards 54 to 39 on the night.
Rookie Dion Waiters, who was named to the starting lineup by Scott on Monday, played 28 minutes and was very good in his debut, putting up 17 points on 6-for-14 shooting.
He also hit 2-for-5 from three-point range. On the night the Cavs were 7-for-20 from three-point land.
Tristan Thompson put up 12 points, including an icing on the cake dunk in the final minute to seal the win. The second-year Cavalier had 10 rebounds, three of which were on the offensive side.
Cleveland came out slow down 5-0, but went off with Irving leading the way, and by the end of the first 12 minutes led the affair 31-24.
They built the lead to 50-39 at the half, outscoring Washington 19-15 in the second quarter.
Things continued to go the Cavs way in the third quarter, as they came out of the locker room playing well still, and were up 12 at the end of three.
Washington though got back in the game in the fourth, and found themselves ahead by two with 8:12 left before falling apart.
Jordan Crawford led the Wizards with 11 points in the loss.
The Cavs will look for their second straight as they take on the Chicago Bulls Friday night at 7:30 at Quicken Loans Arena.