Alonzo Gee's improvement impossible to miss

Alonzo Gee's improvement impossible to miss

Published Jan. 13, 2012 12:13 p.m. ET

Alonzo Gee could be the Cavaliers' most improved player from last season.

The 6-foot-6, 219-pound Gee started his transformation last year when he started 29 games with the Cavs (5-5). Now coming off the bench behind starter Omri Casspi at small forward, he makes things happen when he's on the court.

"I feel like I belong," he said. "I continue to keep working and keep getting better and keep improving."

He's averaging 8.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Gee is shooting 50 percent from the field.

Gee also came back this year with a three-point shot.

"I shot the ball (last year)," he said. "I just didn't shoot it as much as I'm shooting it now.

"If I'm open, I'll shoot it. It's not all that I do, though. I drive the ball and do other things. I have to keep working. My coaches and teammates are helping me out."

Gee scored eight points, pulled down four rebounds and had two assists in the Cavs' 101-90 victory over Phoenix on Thursday. The Cavs travel to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

He's clearly playing better than Casspi, but coach Byron Scott said recently he's not ready to make a change with his starting lineup. The Cavs have a lot invested in Casspi, who is averaging 6.3 points and 2.3 rebounds. He's shooting just 37.5 percent from the field and 29.2 percent from the three-point line.

The Cavs traded J.J. Hickson to the Kings last June in exchange for Casspi and a conditional first-round pick. They want Casspi to succeed. That won't happen if he's benched in favor of an undrafted free agent.

Scott loves the improvement he sees in Gee.

"The biggest leap with 'Zo is he has some confidence," he said. "I don't know if he's the pet project, but he's somebody I take a lot of pride in," he said. "I've seen where this young man has come from and how hard he worked. I just want good things for him and if I can help him on the court and make him more comfortable, I'm going to do that."


Cavs' rebounding keeps improving

--The Cavs have vaulted up to sixth in the NBA in total rebounding. The biggest reason is C Anderson Varejao, who pulled down a season-high 17 rebounds on Thursday against the Suns, including seven on the offensive glass. He's now averaging 10.9 per game, seventh best in the league, and 4.7 offensive rebounds, third best in the NBA. Varejao has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in five consecutive games, the longest streak of his career.

--The Cavs continue to lead the NBA with 8.4 fast-break points allowed. They held the Suns to just seven fast-break points on Thursday, which is quite an accomplishment. Normally, Suns G Steve Nash has his way with the Cavs and controls the tempo. He finished with 16 points and 15 assists, but the Suns never got their transition offense in gear.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's getting more comfortable each and every game. He's starting to figure out his role and what he can do in this league. We knew he'd be a good weak-side defender. He's been active on the boards. Around that paint area, he can be effective. I'm impressed with the way he's played." -- Cavs coach Byron Scott, on forward Tristan Thompson's development.



--G Kyrie Irving, one of the league's youngest point guards at 19 years old, picked a perfect night to have his best game of the season. He faced off with Suns G Steve Nash for the first time in the Cavs' win at Phoenix on Thursday. Irving responded with a career-high 26 points, three rebounds, six assists and two steals. He turned the ball over six times. Irving made 11-of-17 from the field and 2-of-4 from the three-point line. He's first among NBA rookies with a 16.6 scoring average. His 5.2 assists are second among rookies (Minnesota G Ricky Rubio is first at 7.9). Irving has reached 20 or more points five times this season, as well as his last three games.

--The Cavs' three-point shooting hit the skids in losses to Portland and Utah when they connected on seven of 44 attempts. They rebounded in a big way on Thursday by connecting on 10 of 19 in the win over Phoenix. Both F Antawn Jamison and G Daniel Gibson each made three of five attempts from behind the arc.

--The Cavs couldn't wait for C Semih Erden to get back on the court. He missed the first eight games of the season with a broken right thumb. He's played in the last three games and has been iffy at best. He fouled out in the Suns game in just 12 minutes. He didn't score and had two rebounds.