I walked into the Cavs' locker room in Phoenix last season when Anderson Varejao was sitting on the trainer's table with his foot in a boot. He had just learned earlier in the day his season was over after 31 games and he wore a blank expression on his face.
Varejao was in a little better mood tonight, but only slightly. It's amazing someone who plays with an all-out, aggressive approach can suffer two freak injuries like this in consecutive seasons. He tore a ligament in his ankle running wind sprints last year, he fractured his wrist Friday when he was hit on the hand going up for a shot.
The Cavs were already sputtering last season when Varejao was injured, that simply sent them spiraling over the edge. It remains to be seen how they respond this season.
Guys were dejected before the game, to the point where Byron Scott felt it was necessary to address it at halftime, telling his guys Varejao was gone and it was up to them to respond. They certainly didn't respond tonight, but they were playing the second of a back-to-back after losing a draining overtime game on Friday and they had just learned they'd be without their heart and guts leader for the foreseeable future.
The Cavs' season took a dramatic turn tonight. A team that once was fighting for a playoff spot may now be starting a slow, methodical slide down the standings. As I said last night, that's not necessarily a bad thing for the long-term outlook of the franchise. But no one in that locker room was worried about that tonight.
"Seems like the worst things happen 2 the BEST of people," Daniel Gibson tweeted tonight. "Get Well Soon Andy V"
The Cavs managed just one field goal through the first 4 1/2 minutes of the second quarter, allowing the Sixers to extend a two-point lead after one quarter to 39-23 with 7:33 left in the half.
Antawn Jamison, Ramon Sessions and Alonzo Gee combined to shoot 20 of 39 and score 56 points. The rest of the team combined to shoot 11 of 55 and score 28 points.
"Terrible. I can't believe this has happened." -- Varejao, on his fractured wrist
The Cavs (10-16) will host the Indiana Pacers (17-10) at 7 p.m. at the Q on Wednesday.