LAS VEGAS: All those hours standing on the baseline are apparently starting to pay off for Dion Waiters. Cavaliers coach Mike Brown was so excited about Waiters’ defensive effort in Thursday’s 72-66 summer league victory over the San Antonio Spurs that he interrupted Waiters’ post-game live shot with NBA TV to give him a hug.
In his finest performance in four summer league games, Waiters had 27 points and six rebounds to lead the Cavs into the quarterfinals at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Waiters was more vocal defensively Thursday. He paid attention to more than just the guy with the ball and he was more aware on the court. He also shot 12-of-23 and flashed a variety of spin moves around the basket.
“Today my defense was better, I was talking more and in the right spots,” he said.
If the Cavs are going to improve their terrible defense from the past couple of years, it will start on the perimeter, where Waiters and Kyrie Irving were often helpless at stopping dribble penetration.
Waiters has now oscillated between good and bad performances this summer. He shot a combined 22 percent (6-of-27) in the Cavs’ first and third games, but he shot 48 percent (19-of-40) in their second and fourth games.
Waiters shook his head and laughed Wednesday recalling how the players stood along the baseline for two hours during the first couple practices while Brown taught defensive coverages. Apparently, Waiters was listening.
But for as well as Waiters played Thursday, second-year center Tyler Zeller did not. He had one point (0-of-3 shooting), five rebounds and five fouls in 20 fairly unproductive minutes.
Second-round pick Carrick Felix maintained his consistent summer with nine points and six rebounds. He is averaging 8.5 points and 6.5 rebounds and has started all four games at small forward.
The Cavs officially added Scoop Jardine to the summer league roster Thursday. Jardine had worked out with the team the previous two days. The Cavs were short-handed because of injuries to Kevin Jones and Chris Quinn.
The league will expand use of instant replay beginning next season following a vote at the Board of Governors meeting Thursday in Las Vegas.
Replay may now be used to review a block/charge call to determine if a defender was inside or outside the restricted area; to determine whether an off-ball foul occurred before or after a player has started his shooting motion on a successful shot; and during the review of any instant replay situation to permit the officials to assess the appropriate penalties for any flagrant fouls.
In addition, it will no longer be considered a clear path foul if the defender committing the foul is positioned ahead of the offensive player in the frontcourt. Finally, a team on offense will lose possession if its player leaves the floor and does not immediately return, unless he is injured, attempting to save the ball.
Brown declined to comment on Andrew Bynum until after the team’s news conference this morning at the Cleveland Clinic Courts. … A report surfaced on Twitter from a New York radio station, citing “a person in the know,” inferring Kyrie Irving would leave Cleveland when he got the opportunity. Irving responded within hours in two tweets. “I wish I knew ‘someone in the know’ for all my facts, maybe I would go into journalism as well!!!” Irving wrote. “Rumors are rumors,” he wrote in a subsequent tweet. The Cavs control Irving for three more seasons. … Former Cavs assistant coach Joe Prunty is in Las Vegas for the summer league games. He was let go at the end of the season when Byron Scott was fired. Scott was in Las Vegas for the preliminary round games, too, but has already departed.