Down 61-45 in the third quarter and looking flat, Washington opened the fourth with its 14-0 spurt, taking a 76-74 lead when Jannero Pargo drained a 3-pointer from the corner. The Wizards rallied while Irving was getting some rest, and it wasn’t long before Scott sent his young star back in to help restore order.
“I told Kyrie at the eight-minute mark that we have two timeouts left,” Scott said. “He patted me on the leg and said, ‘Don’t worry about it Coach, I got it.’”
Irving’s driving layup in traffic gave Cleveland an 82-80 lead, and he calmly stepped up and drained a 21-foot jumper to put the Cavaliers ahead 86-80.
With the Cavs up by four, Varejao fed Thompson underneath for a dunk to make it 88-84. Crawford made two free throws for Washington, and on Cleveland’s next possession, Irving made a spin move in the lane and passed it to Varejao, who then upstaged his slick passing teammate with a feed to Thompson for another dunk.
Scott was thrilled with the way his young team — with an average age of 24.9 years — responded down the stretch.
“They showed a lot of heart,” he said. “They showed a lot of guts.”
Notes: According to the Cavs, Varejao is the first player to get at least nine points, 23 rebounds and nine assists in a season opener since Wilt Chamberlain in 1967. … Thompson finished with five assists. He had just 27 last season. … Washington was only 8 of 32 on 3-pointers, and missed some big ones in the fourth. … Browns rookie QB Brandon Weeden, a big Oklahoma City fan, and RB Trent Richardson, sat behind the Cavs’ bench and they got a huge ovation when shown on the giant scoreboard in the second quarter. They sat with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert in the second half. … Before the game, Gilbert said he regrets guaranteeing the Cavs would win an NBA title before LeBron James, who left Cleveland as a free agent in 2010. “Looking back now, that probably was not the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Gilbert said.