He has always been known for his energy, defensive tenacity and rebounding, but it was Anderson Varejao's vision and offensive awareness that won the Cavaliers' opener on Tuesday.

Varejao had 23 rebounds and nine assists, both career highs, to go with nine points in the Cavs' 94-84 victory over the injury-depleted Washington Wizards. Varejao has never been known to stuff multiple categories on a stat sheet, but he was one point and one rebound away from his first triple-double.

"I wish I had a little bit more time," Varejao joked. "I was just trying to be active. I went after every offensive rebound."

The Cavs desperately missed Varejao last season when he missed the final two months with a fractured hand. How much they missed him was evident upon his return.

The Cavs carried a 12-point lead into the fourth quarter, but the bench players gave it up quickly by going scoreless for the first five minutes. By the time coach Byron Scott could get the starters back in the game, the Wizards had a 76-74 lead.

Kyrie Irving's 29 points and Dion Waiters' 17 played a big role in wrestling back the lead, but it was Varejao's assists on dump offs to Tristan Thompson on consecutive possessions in the final minutes that sealed the win.

"We're changing our offense. I'm having the ball in my hands a lot," Varejao said. "Every time I passed the ball, they made shots.'

The Cavs needed every one of them to fend off a plucky Wizards team playing without their two best players, Nene Hilario and John Wall. Hilario's absence cleared a little room in the middle and allowed Varejao to grab 12 offensive rebounds.

"He must be a nightmare to try and defend," Scott said of Varejao.