Waiters Makes a Point; Cavs Pull Past Suns
Cleveland managed just 37 points in the first half of Tuesday’s matchup with Phoenix. But they turned it up in the second stanza and blew past the Suns, 89-74, at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Tristan Thompson was back in the starting lineup and Garret Temple got the start at shooting guard. But the big shift was both bringing Dion Waiters off the bench and putting him on the ball. The results were impressive.
With Kyrie Irving back in Cleveland, awaiting surgery on his fractured right hand, the Cavaliers have gone with Donald Sloan at the point. Sloan got the start again against Phoenix, but Waiters came off the bench – a role he’s certainly familiar with – to run the point starting in the second quarter. He’s not the pure playmaker that Irving is, but his aggressiveness got the Cavaliers in gear in Tuesday’s victory.
The No. 4 overall pick in this past June’s Draft finished with 16 points, going 5-of-15 from the floor and 6-for-7 from the stripe. The former Big East Sixth Man of the Year added four boards, three assists and a pair of steals. He also bounced back from a rough collision with Phoenix’ Markieff Morris midway through the third period.
Samardo Samuels led the Cavaliers – also coming off the bench to finish with 17 points and five boards. Like Waiters, Samardo didn’t exactly stroke it from the floor – going 4-of-10. But he was 9-for-9 from the line and the Wine and Gold were +20 with the slimmed-down Samuels on the floor.
The Cavaliers’ other rookie, Tyler Zeller, continued his extremely impressive run in Sin City – notching a double-double and leading Cleveland with 12 boards, including six off the offensive glass. The rookie big man notched 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting.
Phoenix featured three players in double-figures, but sophomore Markieff Morris did most of the heavy lifting – leading both clubs with 24 points and 17 boards.
The Cavaliers (2-1) get a well-earned day off on Wednesday before returning to action on Thursday evening against Minnesota. They close it out in Vegas on Friday afternoon, when they face off against the Knicks.