November 21, 2014

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Big Easy just another trip to Cavs coach

INDEPENDENCE — Anita Scott has a new nickname for her husband, Cavaliers coach Byron Scott.

Back in August, she started calling him “Cindafel­low,” a takeoff on Cinderella, because no matter what obstacles get in Scott’s way or what misfor­tune he endures, he always seems to land on his feet.

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Now wearing a glass slipper with the Cavs, the 49-year-old Scott will lead his new team against his former team Friday night when Cleveland (5-5) plays in New Orleans (9-1, 6-0 at home).

“It’s just a road trip,” Scott insisted following a very light practice Wednes­day at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “They just happen to be one of the stops.”

After leading New Jersey to two NBA Finals appear­ances, Scott took over as Hornets coach in 2004-05.

He led the team to a fran­chise- record 56 victories in 2007-08, when he was named NBA Coach of the Year, and 49 in an injury-riddled 2008-09 season.

When New Orleans traded Tyson Chandler and Rasul Butler, Scott said the “writing was on the wall.” He was fired when the Hornets got off to a 3-6 start and spent the rest of last season working for ESPN.

“I never look back,” Scott said. “The past is the past. I don’t look back on what if or this could have been. That’s a waste of time as far as I’m concerned. It’s a waste of energy. I want to save my energy for the team I have now.

“Everything happens for a reason. Me being here is a blessing. I’ve got great guys to work for, a great organization, a great owner. Like my wife says, I’m Cindafellow. I’ve died and gone to heaven.”

Scott is looking forward to talking with Hornets point guard Chris Paul — “The young man was special from Day One,” he said — but he won’t spend a lot of time socializing with acquaintances in New Orleans.

“This is not a pleasure trip. This is a business trip,” he said. “We’re trying to win games. I won’t do anything out of the ordinary.

“I won’t be staying out all night getting drunk and all that stuff. I won’t be on Bourbon Street. That’s just not me. I’ll be with the coaches or I’ll be in my room chilling.”

Mr. Sixer

Cavs small forward Joey Graham has scored 25 points all season.

Twenty-three have come in two games against the Philadelphia 76ers. Graham had 10 points in Cleveland’s 123-116 win in Philadelphia on Nov. 5, then had 13 Tuesday night in a 101-93 victory at Quicken Loans Arena.

“He’ll be in the rotation for a little while,” Scott said. “I just wanted to try something different with Joey. I know I can get some scoring in the post. He’s made his living there. … He’s pretty tough to handle down there, and he can make the 16-, 17-foot shot as well.”

Graham, who is averaging 6.3 points on .579 shooting (11-for-19), will replace Jawad Williams, who is averaging 4.4 on .333 (15-for-45), in the rotation behind starting small forward Jamario Moon. Tuesday was the first game Williams failed to appear in this season.

Scott’s hope is that Graham, who appears much bigger than his listed 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds, can play solid defense while giving Cleveland a more aggressive offensive player.

Moon has taken five free throws in 268 minutes, while Williams has attempted five in 150. Graham, who was slowed by a quadriceps injury in training camp, has three attempts in 57 minutes.

Moon also had his best game of the season Tuesday, posting season highs of 13 points and eight rebounds, meaning Cleveland’s two small forwards combined for 26 points.

Tip-ins

  • The Cavs watched film and did some shooting Wednesday, but point guard Mo Williams, who has missed the last two games with a strained groin, did play some three-on-three.
  • Scott said Anderson Varejao, who returned after a one-game absence and wore a flak jacket obtained from the Browns to protect his bruised ribs, emerged from the Philadelphia game in good shape.
  • Scott said power forward J.J. Hickson, who has just two rebounds in each of his last two games, is in no immediate danger of losing his starting spot. Hickson sat the last 18 minutes against the Sixers.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.