His Cavaliers teammates call Anderson Varejao a horse.

As in workhorse. As in the kind of player who never stops trying, never gives up, always is full of energy and always scratches and claws for the ball every time he's on the court.

As in the kind of center who grabs a career-high 23 rebounds -- 12 offensive -- dishes a career-high nine assists and adds nine points in Cleveland's season-opening 94-84 victory over Washington.

"You can put him in the Kentucky Derby and ride him and you might win some money," forward Tristan Thompson joked. It was the kind of performance the Cavaliers have missed for nearly nine months -- Varejao broke his wrist in February and hadn't appeared in a regular-season game since.

Before the game, coach Byron Scott challenged his young team to play hard, to play with energy. Which, of course, is like telling Varejao to simply play the way he always does.

"So I just tried to do my job," he said. "Be active. And it was one of those nights when you get one, two, three, and [rebounds] keep coming. It was fun."

Varejao had 12 rebounds in the third quarter and surpassed his previous career-high of 20 when he nabbed the final carom off the rim as the quarter buzzer sounded. Two of his career-high assists came in the final two minutes, when Varejao fed Thompson from the high post and Thompson slammed down dunks that were vital to the Cavaliers securing the victory.