THE FACTS: Point guard Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 29 points, while center Anderson Varejao amassed nine points, a career-best 23 rebounds and nine assists as the Cleveland Cavaliers held on for a 94-84 victory over the Washington Wizards. Rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters added 17 points for Cleveland, while Washington rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal scored eight points. The Wizards were led by shooting guard Jordan Crawford, who had 11 points and five assists off the bench in the first game of the 2012-2013 NBA regular season.
QUOTABLE: "I asked the referees if we could play five more minutes -- even though the game was already won -- so Andy could get another point and another assist. He's just so valuable to us because of all the things that he does on both ends of the floor."
-- Cavaliers coach Byron Scott
THE STAT: Cleveland fan favorite Varejao lived up to his "Wild Thing" nickname by dominating the glass and making a run at his first NBA triple-double. The mop-topped Brazilian tied the Cavaliers' franchise record with 12 offensive rebounds, and set career highs with 23 total boards and nine assists. "It's exciting to be back out on the court, exciting to be playing here for these fans," he said. "I gave everything I had tonight." Varejao has spent his entire, nine-year, 445-game career with Cleveland.
TURNING POINT: After Washington scored 14 straight points to start the fourth quarter and take a 76-74 lead, Scott rushed Irving, Waiters and power forward Tristan Thompson back onto the court. Cleveland immediately responded with a four-point play -- featuring a 3-pointer by Waiters and an "and-one" free throw by Varejao -- and ended the contest on a 20-8 run. "We just didn't execute down the stretch," Beal said. "With the way this game went, I'm ready to play tomorrow."
QUOTABLE II: "Andy is a horse, man. He might win the Kentucky Derby by himself. I might have to saddle up and try and ride him to victory. That's how strong of a leader he is."
-- Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson
HOT: Varejao became the first player in NBA history to collect at least nine points, 23 rebounds, 12 offensive boards and nine assists in a season opener. He also is the first NBA player to post those numbers, period, since 76ers power forward Charles Barkley on March 20, 1987. "That guy did work for us and everything on the floor," Waiters said. "Andy is a great teammate and a great basketball player." ... Thompson, who had 27 assists in his entire rookie season, dished out a career-high five helpers. The second-year pro also posted the lone double-double on the night with 12 points and 10 rebounds. ... Wizards center Earl Barron only played the final 16 minutes, but scored eight points and grabbed a team-high eight boards.
NOT: Washington's starting backcourt of Beal and point guard A.J. Price combined to shoot 4-for-21 from the field, missing all eight of their two-point field goal attempts. "I felt good mentally and physically, but I wish I had done better," said Beal, the No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft out of Florida. ... Wizards backup guards Crawford and Jannero Pargo were 6-for-19 on field goals, including 1-for-10 beyond the arc. ... Washington starting power forward Trevor Booker had four points, one rebound, four fouls and four turnovers in 17 minutes. ... Cavaliers starting small forward Alonzo Gee had four points on 2-for-9 shooting with five fouls and three turnovers in 34 minutes.
QUOTABLE III: "Varejao at times just dominated our bigs. We can't get beat up on the boards like we did or shoot free throws like we did and give yourself a realistic chance to win."
-- Wizards coach Randy Wittman
GOOD MOVE: Irving aggressively looked to score at all times, but made sure he was only taking good shots. The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year was 11-for-20 on field goals, 3-for-6 on 3-pointers, and 4-for-5 on free throws in 35 strong minutes. "They have one of the best point guards in the league in Kyrie," Price said. "Even though he's young, he's real tough." Irving also had six rebounds, three assists and one blocked shot, leading all players with a plus-23 on-court ratio.
BAD MOVE: Scott opted to start the fourth quarter with an all-reserve lineup of rookie center Tyler Zeller, power forward Luke Walton, small forward C.J. Miles, shooting guard Daniel Gibson, and point guard Donald Sloan. Cleveland began the period with a 74-62 lead, but saw it vanish in exactly 3:48 thanks to that ill-advised quintet. North Carolina product Zeller made his NBA debut, while Miles played in his initial game with the Cavaliers.
NOTABLE: Waiters -- the No. 4 overall pick in the NBA Draft out of Syracuse -- paced the Cavaliers with three steals, but did not have an assist. ... The Wizards were without standout point guard John Wall (left patella stress injury), center Nene (left plantar fasciitis) and power forward Kevin Seraphin (right calf strain), but Wittman didn't use their absences as an excuse. "That wasn't the team I've seen in the last four weeks," the visibly unhappy coach said. "I watched them do things tonight that I didn't ever see these guys do." ... Washington was outrebounded 54-39 and shot 3-for-21 on 3-pointers in the final three quarters. ... Cleveland debuted its alternate home jersey, which is gold and features dark red "Cavs" lettering. ... The Cavaliers also unveiled their new court at Quicken Loans Arena, featuring an enormous "C" around the center circle.
UP NEXT: For the Wizards, Saturday vs. Boston, Nov. 7 @ Boston, Nov. 9 vs. Milwaukee. For the Cavaliers, Friday vs. Chicago, Saturday @ Milwaukee, Monday at L.A. Clippers.