April 21, 2014

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Cavaliers survive Wine & Gold scrimmage, but get a scare when Tyler Zeller suffers strained hip

BEREA — The great news is the oft-injured Anderson Varejao got up.

The good news is Tyler Zeller eventually did, too, suffering only a strained left hip Saturday afternoon during the Cavaliers’ Wine & Gold scrimmage at Baldwin Wallace University’s Ursprung Gym.

“I was just thankful it wasn’t my knee,” the 7-foot, 250-pounder said. “When I looked down and saw my right knee was over there, I knew something was wrong.”

The second-year center’s right foot hit a wet spot midway through the third quarter, with Varejao landing on top of him as they battled for the only right-handed free throw Tristan Thompson made in four attempts.

Zeller stayed down and was attended to by team trainers, but eventually walked off under his own power with just a slight limp.

“It will be day-to-day,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll be ready to go Monday. … Normally, I’m one to pop up pretty quick, but that one scared me.”

The game was ended with 6:10 left in the third due to the humidity and slippery floor, with the Wine team that started Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Varejao, Thompson and Alonzo Gee winning 46-38.

The Gold team started Jarrett Jack, C.J. Miles, Earl Clark, Anthony Bennett and Zeller, who looked impressive while putting up 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting and four rebounds in 27 minutes.

“It’s not even comparable,” Zeller said when asked how much more comfortable he is in his second NBA training camp. “Last year, they were throwing a million terms at you.

“I’m not going to claim I know what I’m doing,” he added, “but I’m getting a lot better.”

Zeller’s effort impressed coach Mike Brown, who really liked the fact the big man drew a charge.

“He was active defensively,” Brown said. “There were a couple times he blew defensive assignments, but I don’t know if anybody didn’t blow at least one.”

While Zeller impressed, No. 1 overall pick Bennett, who said his weight is at 250 pounds, looked pudgy and out of shape after not being able to play basketball most of the summer due to left shoulder surgery.

Bennett air-balled his first two shots, but did throw down a dunk over Varejao in traffic while finishing with six points and four boards in 26 minutes.

“It’s hard sitting out the whole summer and trying to come back,” the 20-year-old said. “It’s something I’m working hard at.”

Not surprisingly, Irving was the best player on the floor, finishing with 17 points, three rebounds, two assists, three steals and three turnovers. Irving had 14 points as the Wine outscored the Gold 29-12 in the second 10-minute quarter.

The Duke product made 4-of-6 from beyond the crooked, taped NBA 3-point arc, while the rest of the Cavs went a combined 2-for-15 from long range.

Free-agent signee Jack, who went head-to-head with Irving a lot of the time, was also impressive with nine points on 4-for-6 shooting and a game-high six assists, though he did have four of Cleveland’s 25 total turnovers.

During one sequence, Jack hit a three, made a fadeaway in the lane over Irving and lobbed to Zeller for a dunk.

“He’s just an all-around solid player,” Zeller said.

Tip-ins

Waiters had six points on 2-for-7 shooting, four assists and three steals in 27 minutes. Waiters’ best moment came on a dunk after Irving sprinted the length of the court to chase down a loose ball.

* Training camp invitee Kenny Kadj badly outplayed 12-year veteran DeSagana Diop when they went head to head.

* Gold reserves Carrick Felix, Michael Lee, Matthew Dellavedova, Diop, Jermaine Taylor and Gee, who switched teams at halftime, combined for two points on 0-for-11 shooting.

* About 800 people attended the scrimmage, which was open to military personnel and their families.

* The minute totals for each player are slightly inflated, as the final box score used a program based on traditional 12-minute quarters.

* The Cavs are off today and will resume practicing Monday at Cleveland Clinic Courts. They will host the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena in their first exhibition game.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.