December 18, 2014

Elyria
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Cavaliers open preseason with sorry exhibition

CLEVELAND — Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry may want to offer a few more bucks to holdouts Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic.
With their starters playing poorly in abbreviated action and their current bench players doing nothing to show they deserve consistent minutes in the regular season, the Cavaliers were blown out 81-62 by the Washington Wizards in their preseason opener Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
“We didn’t play well, of course,” said LeBron James, who had three points on 1-of-5 shooting in 15 minutes. “There was a little bit of jitters. That’s not what we’re going to look like when we get closer to regular-season form.”
Cleveland coach Mike Brown gave heavy minutes to his reserves, but no one looked ready to step in for restricted free agents Varejao and Pavlovic, indisputably the team’s top two players off the bench.
For that matter, no one even looked worthy of consistent playing time off the bench in the regular season, as Cleveland reserves played 45 minutes in the first half and put up a grand total of four points on 2-of-13 shooting.
Things were particularly abysmal at the start of the second quarter, when Cavalier subs missed their first 11 shots. Cleveland did not get its first points of the period until Cedric Simmons scored on a follow-up with 6:55 to play in the half.
At that point, the Cavaliers had a grand total of 17 points.
“We don’t have anybody who can produce like Sasha and Andy can,” James said. “Nobody can fill their particular roles. They’re a big part of our team. Until they get here, we just have to try and hold down the fort.”
On this night, the starters weren’t anything to write home about, either, which is why Washington led by one point at the end of the first period,
16-15, despite shooting 4-of-19 from the field (.190) and
6-of-12 at the line.
The Cavaliers eventually fell behind by 17 points in the second quarter and by 24 in the third.
“We have a ways to go on both ends of the floor,” Brown said.
Cleveland’s best player probably was second-year guard Daniel “Boobie” Gibson, who had 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Gibson, however, had just one assist and three turnovers in 24 minutes.
Power forward Drew Gooden was 2-of-12 from the floor, center Zydrunas Ilgauskas was
1-of-4 and shooting guard Larry Hughes was 2-of-6 on a night when the Cavaliers shot .306 as a team (22-of-72).
“We shot too many jump shots at the beginning of the game,” Brown said. “We didn’t attack the rim.”
Other than Shannon Brown and Damon Jones, who came alive late to finish with nine points apiece, Cleveland’s reserves were woeful from an offensive standpoint. Ira Newble was 0-of-5, Dwayne Jones was 0-of-4, Donyell Marshall was 0-of-3 and Devin Brown was 1-of-4 as that quartet accounted for four points in
68 minutes.
Washington wasn’t any better, as Gilbert Arenas was
2-of-11 from the field and Caron Butler was 1-of-6.
LeBron picks Tribe
The Indians having dispatched his Yankees in an American League Division Series, James is changing his allegiance as Cleveland prepares to meet Boston in the AL Championship Series. “I think Cleveland is going to win,” he said. “Like I said before, if there’s got to be one team that beats New York, I wanted Cleveland to beat them. I hope Cleveland does the same thing it did in New York (against Boston).”
Likely lineup
The Cavaliers started James, Gibson, Hughes, Gooden and Ilgauskas. That is also likely to be their starting five in the Oct. 31 season opener against Dallas. “It definitely could be,” Mike Brown said. “There is nothing set in stone.”
Tip-ins
The Cavaliers have officially upped James’ weight from 240 pounds to 250. Gooden has gone from 242 to 250, while Hughes is up one pound to 185.
l The red on the court at The Q is brighter this season — it’s more of an apple color than the previous maroon — and the blue lines are lighter. The goal is to make the court look better on television.
l There were 15,721 tickets distributed for the game. Actual attendance was about one-third of that.
Noland may be reached at rickn@ohio.net or 330-721-4061.