After three hit-or-miss games to open his NBA career, Cleveland Cavaliers rookie big man Tyler Zeller finally started to look comfortable in his fourth pro outing, a Monday night matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center. The No. 17 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft came out strong, running the floor, working for position and hitting four of his five first-half attempts, then kept it going after halftime by making a pair in the third quarter as the surprising young Cavs took it to their favored Western Conference hosts.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Cleveland — paced by star point guard Kyrie Irving, rock-solid center Anderson Varejao and some sharp shooting from top 2012 pick Dion Waiters — were not only going toe-to-toe with a playoff team, but were holding on to a six-point lead, and Zeller was a big part of that. The kid must have been feeling good about himself.
Well, Clippers center DeAndre Jordan can take care of that:
Welcome to the NBA, rook.
Jordan's rebound-seeking/boom-lowering right arm, the first of what will likely be many thousands of sharpened elbows Zeller will face in the
underground paint during his NBA career — floored the North Carolina product, would send the North Carolina product to the sidelines and out for the final 5:39 which his teammates rode out for a solid 108-101 road win. Zeller finished with 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting, seven boards (four offensive), two assists, one steal and one bracing wake-up call in 24-plus minutes.
Postgame X-rays were negative, so it doesn't look like Zeller suffered any broken bones when Jordan rocked his snotbox; while he'll be examined in San Francisco on Tuesday ahead of a Wednesday night face-off with the Golden State Warriors, it seems like all the play resulted in was ... a fuzzy Zeller.
That'll be 25 Internet comedy dollars, please. Thanks!
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