October 31, 2014

Medina
Rain
42°F

Cavaliers notes: Brown shuffles lineup once again

By RICK NOLAND

Assistant Sports Editor

CLEVELAND — There’s been a changing of the guard for the Cavaliers, and coach Mike Brown hopes the move works out well enough to become permanent.

With his team having lost three straight and six of its last nine heading into a game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena, Brown benched struggling Sasha Pavlovic and put Devin Brown into the starting five.

“I feel like I need to go in another direction,” Mike Brown said prior to the Sixers game. “I’m trying to get some permanency to what we have going on here. Hopefully, this will be it.”

With Delonte West back starting at point guard after missing one game with an inflamed tendon in his foot, Mike Brown is going to have a hard time getting playing time for all six guards on his roster.

The coach said Daniel Gibson, who played Saturday in Detroit for the first time since spraining his ankle on Feb. 20, will be his first guard off the bench on a consistent basis. That leaves Pavlovic, the equally struggling Wally Szczerbiak and Damon Jones fighting for any leftover minutes.

Devin Brown, who started 13 games when Pavlovic was out with a sprained mid-foot, was fighting for minutes in that mix as well, but his playing time figures to go up a bit now that he’s starting again.

“It’s always fun to see your name in lights,” he said. “We’ve definitely got to get this thing turned around, especially down the stretch. This is a crucial part of the season. We don’t want to go into the playoffs second-guessing anything. We’ll see how it goes.”

Mike Brown gave Pavlovic his starting job back after he missed 23 games due to injury, but the 6-foot-7, 239-pounder did nothing to keep it in what has been a disappointing season. Pavlovic is averaging 7.8 points on .362 shooting in 24 minutes a night, while Devin Brown is averaging 7.1 points on .418 shooting in 22 minutes.

“I threw Sasha in there to see what we could get,” Mike Brown said. “He deserved the opportunity.

“Devin’s played well on both ends of the floor. Hopefully, it will give us some consistency.”

 

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BIG BEN: Power forward Ben Wallace, who got hit by Antonio McDyess and landed awkwardly Saturday in Detroit, was cleared to play against the Sixers, but Mike Brown decided to hold him out in the hope the veteran’s back spasms will become less of a problem. “This has nothing to do with him,” Mike Brown said. “He wants to play. He expects to play. Our training staff said he could play. I’m telling him he’s not going to play. I’m doing it just to be conservative.” Wallace, who had missed 2½ games before coming back against the Pistons, was upbeat prior to the Sixers game. “Before, it used to hurt constantly,” he said of his back. “Right now, it doesn’t bother me as much.” Wallace said doctors will examine him again and he’ll do whatever they recommend. “It’s just one of those things,” he said. “We want to get it under control before the playoffs start.” However, the 12th-year pro doubts he’ll be back to full strength at any point this season. “I don’t think it will ever get to 100 percent,” Wallace said. “I’ll just try to get it close to 100 percent. I’ll settle for that.”

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IT’S THE SHOES: West’s injury had been reported as a sprained ankle, but he said it was actually an inflamed tendon caused by the way his Nike Air tennis shoes were laced up. West said he first experienced problems after a March 16 game against Charlotte, but it took him several weeks to realize his shoes were causing it. “New pair of kicks — same brand — and I’m ready to go,” West said. “I’m not 100 percent, but I’m in the 90s.” Asked if he should be allowed to design his own shoe, West smiled and said, “I’ve been telling Nike that for the longest time. I don’t think I’m at that level yet.”

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BOOBIE PRIZE: Gibson missed his only two shots in 18 minutes of action against Detroit and wasn’t happy with the way he played. “I didn’t feel like myself,” he said. “I like to go 112 (mph) when I’m out there. My body didn’t let me.”

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20/20: LeBron James’ streak of games with at least 20 points ended Saturday at 49. It was the longest such streak since Kobe Bryant had 63 in a row from Dec. 9, 2005 through Nov. 3, 2006. “When I don’t play well, our team struggles,” said James, who had 13 points on 4-of-17 shooting in the 85-71 loss to the Pistons. “I need to play well to help our team get over the hump.”

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THINKING SMALL: Instead of using the long-armed Tayshaun Prince against James, the Pistons defended him with shooting guard Richard Hamilton on Saturday, with two or three other players always ready to help. Asked if more teams might start using a smaller, quicker player against him, James said, “If they put a smaller guy on me, I’ll find a way to make them pay. It’s not a big deal.” Asked the best way to play against him, James said, “I don’t know how to defend me.”

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ROAD WOES: The Cavaliers have lost six straight road games and are now 16-22 away from home on the season. “You wouldn’t think we’d be 0-6 on the road this late in the season,” Mike Brown said.

Noland may be reached at rickn@ohio.net or 330-721-4061.