September 17, 2014

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Cavs notes: Powe comeback on track

CLEVELAND — Slowly but surely, Leon Powe is making his way back from serious knee surgery.

The Cavaliers power forward has begun full-speed running and cutting and is playing one-on-one with assistant coach Melvin Hunt, putting him on pace to meet his goal of returning to action soon after the Feb. 14 NBA All-Star Game.

“I can do all my moves,” Powe said Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena prior to a game against the Houston Rockets. “I just want my finishing moves to be a little more powerful. It’s getting there. Each week, it’s a little better.”

Powe underwent an MRI in Boston in mid-December and his left knee was found to be structurally sound, but there is no target date for him to return to practice.

“We’re trying to get everything right before I go out there,” the 6-foot-8, 240-pounder said. “Once you go out and practice, there’s pretty much no turning back.”

If Powe can make it back by mid-February and round into top form for the playoffs, he could give the Cavaliers a bruising presence under the basket.

That would allow coach Mike Brown the luxury of choosing between the 25-year-old, J.J. Hickson and Anderson Varejao at power forward, but those types of decisions are still a ways away.

“I’m moving and running and doing all types of stuff,” Powe said. “I’m trying to get my in-game situations down.

“It’s frustrating, because I’m a competitor. I want to be out there helping my team.”

Road trip

After losing in Dallas, the Cavaliers concluded their four-game road trip with wins over Phoenix, Sacramento and the Los Angeles Lakers. They had won eight of their last nine prior to Sunday.

“It was a good trip,” Brown said. “We played some tough teams in some tough environments. For the most part, we played the right way.”

Rocket launch

Houston will play the entire season without All-Star center Yao Ming (foot surgery), but the Rockets, who are led by general manager Daryl Morey, a Highland High graduate, still brought a very respectable 18-12 record to The Q.

Shooting guard Tracy McGrady, whose $23.2 million salary makes him the highest-paid player in the NBA this season, recently returned from microfracture surgery and played in six games, but is currently not with the team after complaining about his minutes.

Playing the percentages

The Cavaliers shot .543 from the field in an impressive 102-87 win over the Lakers on Christmas Day and limited Kobe Bryant and Co. to .365 shooting. The .178 difference in field goal percentage was the Lakers’ widest since a 113-84 loss to Denver on Nov. 12, 1993, when they played at the Great Western Forum.

By the numbers

  • Prior to Sunday, the Cavaliers were 21-2 when they shot at least .450 from the field and 14-0 when they hit at least .420 from beyond the 3-point arc.
  • The Cavaliers’ plus-257 point total with Varejao on the floor this season placed the power forward sixth in the NBA.
  • Cavaliers small forward LeBron James will turn 25 Wednesday when Cleveland hosts the Atlanta Hawks.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rickn@ohio.net.