CLEVELAND — Anderson Varejao was already having the most prolific rebounding game of his career when he looked at the scoreboard and noticed he was close to his first triple-double.
One point, one assist was all he needed.
“I was like, ‘Whoa, I wish I had a little bit more time,”’ he said with a smile.
On a night when Cleveland unveiled its backcourt of the future, Varejao did a little bit of everything for the Cavaliers, who blew a 16-point lead in the second half before holding on and beating the short-handed Washington Wizards 94-84 on Tuesday night in the first game on the NBA schedule.
Playing his first home game after missing the final 41 last season with a broken wrist, Varejao had a career-high 23 rebounds. Kyrie Irving scored 29 points and rookie Dion Waiters added 17 for the Cavs, who needed big plays from Irving and Varejao in the final minutes to hold off the Wizards.
Varejao, the Cavs’ 6-foot-11 frizzy-haired Brazilian bundle of energy, added nine points and had a career-high nine assists, two setting up dunks by Tristan Thompson in the last two minutes.
Irving, who typically dishes during the game, handed his teammate a big compliment afterward.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world just having somebody that you know what you’re going to get from them every single night,” Irving said of Varejao. “He almost had a triple-double, that’s typical Andy.”