By Jason Lloyd
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: There were nine players at the start of Sunday averaging a double-double. At his current pace, it won’t be long until Tristan Thompson joins the short list.
Thompson’s 21 double-doubles entering Sunday’s game against the Phoenix Suns was second-most in the Eastern Conference this season. He’s had eight double-doubles in his last 10 games and 10 in his last 14.
A big reason for that has been his work on the offensive glass. Thompson was averaging six offensive rebounds in his last three games prior to Sunday.
“He’s got a nose for the ball. When you have that type of feel, you can’t really teach that,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. “Guys have that knack, that feel. They develop it when they’re younger. He’s got some tenacity to him. It bodes well for offensive rebounder.”
Thompson has also benefited from a minutes increase. He is playing 34 minutes a game since Andrew Bynum’s departure and is combining with Anderson Varejao to average 20.1 rebounds per game. The only duo in the East averaging more are the Detroit Pistons’ Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe (21.5).
With 10 new faces on the roster, the Suns were expected to be one of the league’s worst teams.
Instead, they began this road trip Sunday clinging to the seventh seed in the West and six games above .500.
First-year Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said he’s been pleasantly surprised how few times the Suns have been blown out of games this season and could only think of two occasions out of 42 games where he didn’t think the effort was there.
“There was a lot of talk of tanking and being one of the worst teams and getting a top pick,” Hornacek said. “We told the guys if you play hard and play together, you’ll win your fair share of games.”
Alex Len, whom the Cavs considered with the top overall pick in last summer’s draft, has played in 14 games for the Suns while battling foot problems. He is averaging 2.1 points and 2.3 rebounds. … Varejao played in his 513th game on Sunday, tying Craig Ehlo for ninth on the franchise’s all-time list. … The Cavs recalled rookies Carrick Felix and Sergey Karasev from the Development League prior to Sunday’s game.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs.Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.