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Cavs vs. Montepaschi Siena

By Sam Amico

FINAL – Cavs 91, Siena 85

* Once the Cavs settled down and got comfortable with each other, they looked pretty doggone good. Anyone who thought this young team with a few key newcomers would come out and run the opponent out of the gym … well, those folks are kidding themselves. There’s just too much to learn, too much maturing to do, too many young dudes. But the Cavs did what they needed to do, and that’s a good sign.

* It’s early, but if Tyler Zeller continues to progress at this rate, he may be a starter before fellow rookie Dion Waiters.

* MVP for the Cavs was probably Samardo Samuels (14 points, 7 rebounds). You can tell he spent the off-season working with former Cavs forward Antawn Jamison (now with the Lakers). Samuels looks much more polished and sure of himself offensively.

* Waiters made two very nice plays late in the fourth. The first was a right-handed layup from the left side to finish a drive in traffic. The next was a beautiful pass to Zeller on the next trip down the floor. When Waiters was done, the Cavs led 80-72 with 3:51 to go. On top of that, he hit a fadeaway with just less than 2 minutes remaining (and two free throws with 25.3 seconds) that all but iced it.

* Basically, it’s good to see the rook come alive at winnin’ time. Waiters finished with 11 points and three rebounds.

* Irving (10 points, three assists) did not play in the fourth quarter.

* DNP list: Luke Walton, Jeremy Pargo, Michael Eric, Kelenna Azubuike, Luke Harangody, Jon Leuer, Kevin Jones, Justin Holiday, Kevin Anderson. Expect at least a few of them to get serious minutes Tuesday.

THIRD QUARTER – Cavs 63, Siena 60

* C.J. Miles scored the Cavs’ first five points of the quarter, and was just generally more aggressive offensively. He also hit a 3-pointer from Canada. Good for him, because the Cavs are gonna need it.

* Overall, the Cavs stepped it up defensively and were much sharper on offense.

* For the second time in two quarters, Kyrie Irving found Tristan Thompson for a monstrous two-handed dunk. And I mean monstrous. Thompson later drove on his own, threw it down, and drew a foul. If that’s not enough, he also caught and dunked a one-handed alley-oop pass from Miles.

* In case you’re wondering, Anderson Varejao continues to make every time he touches the ball an absolute thrill ride. But it still usually works out OK.

* Tyler Zeller has been solid all game. Hit his first shot with about 2 minutes left, a 15-foot jumper from straight on.

* Samardo Samuels continued to impress, hitting a 8-foot running sky hook. He has eight points through three quarters.

* Donald Sloan has been running the point when Irving sits. Sloan has done a nice job. Meanwhile, Jeremy Pargo hasn’t played, but will likely get Sloan’s minutes Tuesday in Canton vs. Milwaukee.

* Thompson has 12 points. Irving and Miles 10 apiece. Miles is 4-for-5 from the field. Samuels is 4-for-6. Daniel Gibson is 0-for-5.

SECOND QUARTER -Siena 36, Cavs 33

* The second unit of Daniel Gibson, Donald Sloan, Tyler Zeller, Omri Casspi and especially, Samardo Samuels, did a nice job of running, filling lanes and bringing the Cavs back.

* Samuels has been particularly active, not forcing anything and picking his spots. Zeller, too. That included a NASTY pick. A Casspi baseline 3-pointer gave the Cavs a 25-24 lead at the 8-minute mark.

* Dion Waiters checked in for the first time with 7:09 remaining in the quarter. His first shot, with the shot-clock expiring, was an air ball from the top of the key. His second hit the rim, but missed. When the ball took flight, C.J. Miles rooted it on. “Come on, Dion, ” Miles said.

* On the bright side, Waiters had a nice drive and finish in the lane. He also worked hard on defense, which is what Scott wants to see. Like most rookies, he also looked over at the bench quite a bit during stops in play.

* Waiters and Samuels stayed in the game when starters Kyrie Irving, C.J. Miles and Anderson Varejao checked back in.

* Irving made a fantastic drive and dish, resulting a two-handed slam from Thompson.

* Halftime leaders: Irving 9 points, but just on 1-for-7 shooting; Samuels 6 points & 5 rebounds; Waiters 2 points, 1-for-4 shooting; Donald Sloan and Tristan Thompson each have 4 points; Anderson Varejao 4 rebounds.

* Cavs are 1-5 on 3s, shooting 30 percent overall. Siena holds a 28-23 rebounding edge. Cavs are 12-13 on free throws, have committed 10 turnovers (compared to 11 for Siena).

FIRST QUARTER – Siena 22, Cavs 17

* The Cavs have looked slightly rusty, which is to be expected in preseason game No. 1 against an Italian team. They trailed 15-8 with 4 minutes left in the first, with Kyrie Irving starting 0-for-4 shooting.

* Daniel Gibson and Samardo Samuels were the first players off the bench, in for C.J. Miles and Tristan Thompson, respectively. Rookie center Tyler Zeller checked in for Anderson Varejao at the 3:11 mark. Also, Omri Casspi and Donald Sloan checked in at the 3:00 mark.

* The Cavs have a ways to go on when it comes to the fast-break offense. Then again, Siena often fouled right away to slow things down.

* Samuels had a nice putback dunk, and Casspi blocked a shot.

* Irving leads the Cavs with 7 points. Rookie guard Dion Waiters doesn’t play.

PRE-GAME

TIP-OFF: 7 p.m.

PRESEASON RECORDS: Cavs 0-0; Siena 0-1.

TV: None

RADIO: WTAM-1100 AM, 6:30 p.m.

LINEUPS

Cavs vs. Siena

C Р17 Anderson Varejao  vs. 14 Tomas Ress

F – 13 Tristan Thompson vs. 8 Benjamin Eze

F – 33 Alonzo Gee vs. 34 Davis Moss

G – 0 C.J. Miles vs. 22 Matt Jannining

G – 2 Kyrie Irving vs. 6 Bobby Brown

NOTES

Cavs coach Byron Scott said he plans to play the starters 20-24 minutes tonight, and up to seven reserves “in the high teens or high 20s.” He’ll follow the same strategy in Tuesday’s preseason game against Milwaukee in Canton. … Scott also wants the Cavs’ focus to be defense. Last season, they surrendered just 11.7 fast-break points per game. That was fourth-best in the NBA. … Siena is coming off a 106-77 loss in San Antonio on Saturday night. … Janning (Suns) and Brown (Kings, Hornets) have had NBA stints. All five of Siena’s starters played college ball in the U.S. … The Cavs have won seven of 10 preseason games, dating back to 2010.

OFFICIALS: 48 Scott Foster, 34 Kevin Cutler, 26 Pat Fraher

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