The Cavaliers felt the absence of Anderson Varejao in Thursday’s loss to the Heat, writes Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. In its first game since the announcement that Varejao would miss the rest of the season with a torn Achilles tendon, Cleveland suffered a 10-point loss. Vardon noted the Cavs were late on defensive rotations and were slow getting to the kind of loose balls that Varejao typically chases down. “Guys just have to step up and do a little bit more than what they’ve been doing before,” said LeBron James, “but you can’t replace him.”
There’s more from the Central Division:
- The Heat’s Dwyane Wade continues to defend James’ decision to leave Miami, telling Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports that a different standard exists for players and teams. “It’s tough in this league,” Wade said. “When a player makes a decision, and however you make it, there is always backlash. But when an organization makes it, it’s the right thing for an organization to do. And it’s fine. Josh Smith just got cut. It was the right thing for the Pistons to do. It’s fine. LeBron James or players make decisions in free agency, then it becomes a different situation.”
- Another player who didn’t have a happy homecoming Thursday was Carlos Boozer, reports Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com. The Lakers’ forward returned to Chicago for the first time since being amnestied by the Bulls over the summer. Despite an unfriendly reception — Boozer was booed repeatedly by the Chicago crowd — Boozer still has a fondness for the Windy City. “This is like a second home for me,” he said. “I know everybody here. We became like a family over the years.”
- Jonas Jerebko could benefit from all the turmoil in Detroit this week, according to Brendan Savage of MLive. The veteran Pistons’ forward, whose contract expires at season’s end, sees an opportunity to pick up more playing time after the release of Smith. “Obviously, with a 4 man gone — I see myself as a 4 man — a lot more minutes open up in practice and in games,” Jerebko said. “I feel like I’m ready to take that step and I’m ready to go in there and battle for them.