CLEVELAND — Cavaliers coach Byron Scott called it a search for offensive balance, but it was actually a polite way of saying he was benching rookie Dion Waiters.
C.J. Miles started at shooting guard against Sacramento on Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena, with the struggling Waiters, who had gone 12-for-40 from the field and averaged 10.7 points over his previous three games, coming off the bench for the first time in 25 games as a pro.
“If I was trying to get his attention, I wouldn’t even let him dress,” Scott said of the 21-year-old Waiters, the No. 4 pick in the draft. “Nah, I’m not trying to get his attention. I’m just trying to find some balance.”
Scott said he strongly considered not starting Waiters when the 6-foot-4, 221-pounder returned Dec. 18 after missing eight games with a sprained ankle, but ultimately decided to adhere to his policy of a player not losing his job due to injury.
With Miles having scored 33 points off the bench Saturday in Brooklyn — Waiters was 2-for-8 from the field — and point guard Kyrie Irving having gone 25-for-59 from the field over his three previous games, Scott decided Friday was the right time to make a change.
“Now he’s the main guy with the ball in his hands the majority of the time instead of sharing it (with Irving),” the coach said of Waiters playing with the second unit.
Scott didn’t announce the switch until after the media had left the locker room prior to the game. When asked about Waiters’ reaction to the news, he said, “I don’t know if he was that happy about it.”
Waiters entered Wednesday averaging 14.2 points and 3.5 assists, but was shooting just .363 from the field.
“This is not permanent,” Scott said. “I still have to figure out what’s best for the team. Not the individual, the team.”
Another No. 4
Cavs power forward Tristan Thompson, the No. 4 pick in the 2011 draft, entered Wednesday on an upswing. The second-year man had a season-high 17 points and tied a season high with 15 rebounds Saturday in Brooklyn.
In the six games center Anderson Varejao had missed with a bruised knee prior to Wednesday — he also sat out against the Kings — Thompson had averaged 12.8 points and 12.3 rebounds while notching five of his 10 double-doubles on the season. The 21-year-old, who Wednesday discarded the mask he had been wearing to protect a fractured nasal cavity, had upped his season averages to 9.2 points and 8.6 rebounds.
Miles and Miles
Miles became the first player in Cavs history to make eight 3-pointers off the bench when he went 8-for-10 from long range vs. Brooklyn. Miles tied the franchise record for 3-pointers in a game held by LeBron James, Danny Ferry and Wesley Person.
Still the worst
The Bobcats, who host Cleveland on Friday, were making a run at the 2010-11 Cavs’ NBA-record 26-game losing streak, but they ended an 18-game skid Monday with a 91-81 win in Chicago.
“I don’t think about that kind of stuff,” said Scott, whose 2010-11 squad lost 36 out of 37 games at one point en route to finishing 19-63.
- If Varejao gets through a full practice today, he could return Friday in Charlotte or Saturday when the Cavs host Houston. He was still experiencing some soreness when he went through drills Monday, however.
- Guard Daniel Gibson missed his second straight game while recovering from a concussion, but has been cleared to start shooting.
Cousins a keeper
Kings general manager Geoff Petrie recently denied reports the team was shopping third-year center DeMarcus Cousins, who entered Wednesday averaging 16.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
The 6-11, 270-pound Cousins, who had a triple-double Sunday against Boston, has been suspended by the league twice this season and once by the Kings.
“We’ve got a talented young player that’s 22 (years old),” Kings coach Keith Smart said when asked about Petrie saying the center wouldn’t be dealt. “You just don’t put that on the curbside. You’ve got to grow that player.”
Sacramento began the night with a 10-7 record at home and a 1-13 mark on the road, prompting Smart to say, “I wish we could wear our home uniforms on the road.”
- Smart, Cleveland’s interim head coach in 2002-03 after John Lucas was fired, still attends a benefit dinner for blindness in San Francisco each year with former Cavs owner Gordon Gund. The entire event is held in the dark.
- Kings shooting guard Tyreke Evans, who has missed 14 games with a sore left knee, was cleared to join the team Friday in Toronto and begin working out.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.