CLEVELAND: Byron Scott’s Christmas gift to Anderson Varejao is simple: a little time off. Varejao missed the game Friday against the Indiana Pacers and he’s expected to miss the game tonight at the Milwaukee Bucks, too.
Varejao is still nursing a badly bruised knee he injured Tuesday in a loss to the Toronto Raptors. By holding him out this weekend, Scott can give the knee a full week to heal. The Cavs won’t play again until Wednesday at Washington.
“I think it’s important to get that knee as healthy as possible,” Scott said. “It’s nothing long term. You’re going to get banged up through the course of a season. But it’s better to miss three games than 33.”
Varejao missed a game at Golden State on Nov. 7 because the same knee was bothering him. Scott always assumes Varejao will miss a few games here and there throughout a season because of his reckless style of play, but he’s trying to avoid the season-ending injuries that have plagued Varejao each of the past two seasons.
Ankle and wrist injuries the past two years have limited Varejao to 46 percent of the Cavs’ games (81 of 176) in that time.
“He’s going to have bumps and bruises,” Scott said. “You just hope he stays away from the serious injuries.”
Daniel Gibson returned to the rotation Friday after missing one game with a sprained right ankle. Gibson injured the ankle on defense, but he is still disappointed officials haven’t followed through on a new rule designed to protect shooters.
Beginning this season, referees were supposed to crack down on defenders who step into a shooter’s space after he leaves his feet. Gibson jumps into his shot more than other players and typically lands a few feet closer to the basket than where he started. As a result, he has turned ankles on numerous occasions landing on defenders’ feet. He has asked officials about it this season, but hasn’t gotten very far with it.
“They called it on me, and I told the ref when I go down they never call it. He said, ‘I’ll check it out the next time’ and they never do,” Gibson said. “Especially if I make one, I get hit on the elbow or a guy steps into me because that’s pretty much the only way to stop a guy from shooting in this league. They do it all the time.”
C.J. Miles said the biggest key in his adjustment back to a bench role is developing a rhythm with Dion Waiters since Waiters is evolving into the primary backup point guard for the Cavs.
“I’ve got to get a rhythm back with him,” Miles said of Waiters. “Just like he needed a couple games to find his rhythm, I need a couple games to find my rhythm with him. I need to keep doing what I’m doing, trying to stay aggressive. I don’t want to go back to having to stand around waiting for somebody to create things for me.
“Just because I’ve been making jump shots, I don’t want to turn into Steve Novak. That’s not a knock on Steve Novak, but that’s not the way I play. When I was playing more minutes, I was moving around doing different things and that kept guys off balance. Now that I’m making shots, the first thing guys scream when I walk out on the floor is ‘Don’t leave him!’ or ‘Get up on him!’ I want that because I want to be able to drive and put it on the floor.”
Jon Leuer was back with the Cavs on Friday after averaging 20.3 points and 12.3 rebounds in six games in the Development League. He was recalled in part to give the Cavs another big knowing Varejao was likely unavailable for the weekend.
“I got some good game experience and some good playing time,” Leuer said. “Seeing the ball go in the basket in some games was good.”
Leuer was a spare part most of the season, appearing in just five games. Scott says he needs more confidence, but Leuer continues to insist he believes in himself just fine.
“I think it hasn’t shown in games yet in the few opportunities I’ve had out there,” Leuer said. “It’s just a matter of getting into a rhythm in more game settings. And even in practice, getting into a game rhythm and feeling good about yourself.”
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.