INDEPENDENCE — One of Byron Scott’s favorite point guards was in uniform Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
Unfortunately for Scott’s Cavaliers, it was not Kyrie Irving, who missed his third straight game with a hyperextended right knee when Cleveland hosted the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers were led by eighth-year pro and 2013 NBA All-Star Game MVP Chris Paul, whose career began under Scott with the New Orleans Hornets.
“One bad cut or whatever, he could still tweak it,” Scott said of Irving. “The other thing is, ‘How much pain can he take?’ Right now, I’m not really willing to say, ‘OK, you feel like you can take the pain? That’s great. I’m going to let you play tonight.’ I’m just not going that way.
“I would rather wait for him to be 100 percent.”
The Cavs don’t play again until Monday, when they host the New York Knicks, so the 20-year-old Irving will have had eight days rest since he last played Feb. 24 in Miami.
That left veteran Shaun Livingston to start against the 6-foot, 175-pound Paul, who began the night averaging 16.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 9.4 assists, the latter ranking second in the league behind Boston’s injured Rajon Rondo.
“I used to call C.P. ‘The Quiet Assassin,’” Scott said. “He’s one of those kids, he’ll smile, but he wants to rip your heart out on the basketball court. He’ll do whatever it takes to win. That’s the difference between him and a whole lot of other players in this league.”
The 27-year-old Paul stopped in the Cleveland locker room 75 minutes prior to tipoff, going straight into Scott’s office to give his former coach a hug.
Asked to compare Paul with Irving, Scott said, “C.P. has been in this league a long time. He’s probably the best leader in the league. That’s the biggest difference.
“Both of them have a killer instinct in them. When the game is on the line, they both want the ball in their hands. C.P. is probably a little better at this stage of his career at making other players better, which I think Kyrie is going to get to.”
On way out?
|There were several reports that seldom-used Cavs small forward Omri Casspi, currently out after undergoing an appendectomy, would be bought out of his contract prior to the 11:59 p.m. Friday deadline.
Casspi, who has played in 29 games in 2012-13, was scheduled to earn $2.3 million this season in the last year of his contract. The Cavs would have needed to make him a $3.3 million qualifying offer at the end of the season to keep him a restricted free agent.
|The Clippers entered Friday with a 42-18 record, which tied Oklahoma City for the second-most wins in the NBA. The Los Angeles Lakers were 29-30.
“It hurts me that the Purple & Gold are not No. 1 in L.A. record-wise,” said Scott, who won three titles with the Lakers as a player.
The Cavs coach thinks that could now be in the Clippers’ future, saying, “I look at them as a team that can win it all.”
|Back on Nov. 5, in their fourth game of the season, the Cavs went into Los Angeles and beat the Clippers 108-101 behind 28 points from Dion Waiters, who made a rookie franchise-record seven 3-pointers in 11 attempts.
Also in that game, Cavs center Tyler Zeller suffered a concussion and fractured cheekbone courtesy of an elbow from the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan.
|The Cavs recalled forward Kevin Jones from Canton of the NBA Development League. Jones played for the Charge on Thursday and had 24 points and nine rebounds.
The rookie has appeared in eight games for Canton and is averaging 23.1 points and 12.1 rebounds in 39.8 minutes. In 18 games with the Cavs prior to Friday, he was averaging 2.1 points and 1.8 rebounds in 9.3 minutes.
|The Cavs entered Friday with a 10-game home winning streak against the Clippers. They were 15-2 lifetime against Los Angeles at The Q.
l In his first two starts at point guard in place of Irving, Livingston averaged 15.0 points on .556 shooting and 4.0 assists in 33.0 minutes.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.