Reporting Daryl Ruiter
INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Cavaliers will look to bounce back from back to back losses Wednesday night when they host the Utah Jazz.
Tyler Zeller, who missed Monday night’s 102-97 loss to the New York Knicks with an illness, returns to the lineup while Dion Waiters and Daniel Gibson are out.
Zeller, who is averaging 8.9 points and 6.6 rebounds in 33 games as a starter, is feeling much better after battling a stomach bug.
“I’m feeling better,” Zeller said. “I made it through practice yesterday and shootaround this morning so as long as I keep getting better and feeling well and get another meal down I’ll be able to play tonight.”
He collected a double-double Jan. 19 at Utah scoring 13 points to go with a career-high 14 rebounds and 3 blocks.
“Unfortunately in my rookie year I’ve learned there’s not really a good [game] to come back,” Zeller said. “Everybody’s good and you’ve got to be prepared for whatever.”
Gibson and Waiters are suffering from the same illness which has been making it’s way around the team. Waiters did not play against the Knicks and went to the doctor Wednesday morning according to coach Byron Scott.
Wayne Ellington jumps into the starting lineup for the Cavaliers in place of Waiters.
Marreese Speights, who started against the Knicks in place of Zeller, returns to the bench. Speights scored 23 points against the Knicks but just 2 of those points came in the second half.
Scott emphasized to his players that they will have to bring a much better effort and intensity Wednesday night than they did Monday if they are to have any hopes of beating a physical Jazz team.
“I hope our guys go home and eat a lot of Tabasco sauce and gun powder and all that stuff because you’re going to have to be mean and tough tonight,” Scott said.
Al Jefferson, who leads the Jazz with 17.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, is listed as inactive for Utah and will miss his third straight with a sprained left ankle.
Utah, who have won the last 7 meetings against the Cavaliers, should get a boost with the return of Mo Williams who will start.
“Mo gives them a different element because he can make shots,” Scott said. “You don’t know how much rust he’s going to have on his game because he’s missed so many games but obviously if he comes back tonight it probably gives them a little bit of a shot in the arm.”
The former Cavalier is averaging 12.9 points and a team-leading 6.7 assists but hasn’t played since suffering a severely sprained right thumb against Miami on Dec. 22.