April 23, 2014

NBA Summer League: Cavs fall 82-76 to Heat in quarterfinals

The vaunted NBA Summer League schedule has come to an end for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Missing their best players on Saturday — second-year regulars Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller were given the day off — the hapless Cavs were no match for the similarly anonymous Miami Heat, falling 82-76 in Las Vegas.

Forward Justin Harper (21 points), guard Jermaine Taylor (20 points) and guard Cory Higgins (17 points on nine shots) led Cleveland in their continued efforts to find a NBA roster spot. But without Waiters’ above-average scoring ability and Zeller’s presence in the paint, there were hardly any familiar names on the court and the Cavs trailed throughout.

Miami’s James Ennis, D.J. Kennedy and James Nunnally all had very efficient scoring games (38 combined points on 18 shots), while big men Jarvis Varnado and Damion James each recorded double-doubles in leading the Heat to a 35-24 rebounding advantage for the game.

The Cavaliers finished 3-2 overall in Summer League action, highlighted by Thursday’s narrow 72-66 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. In the contest, Waiters had 27 points and 6 assists and was commended for his impressive defensive performance.

Zeller was the team’s most consistent performer in the circuit’s first three games, as he finished with averages of 10.5 points and 8.3 rebounds. Carrick Felix, the No. 33 pick in last month’s draft, also showcased his skills as an hustle-prone wing with impressive rebounding and shooting abilities. Harper and Kenny Kadji, two other forwards with decent college experience, proved that they have NBA-caliber mid-range shooting and rebounding as well.

On Twitter during today’s game, many NBA beat writers broke out in a pun contest poking fun at the name of recent Cavs Summer League roster addition Scoop Jardine, a former Syracuse guard. For more, just check out Fear The Sword’s Sam Vecenie’s excellent collection of the best of the best.

[Related: The Boots: Talkin’ Cavs long-term upside and the 2014 East Playoffs]