INDEPENDENCE — Power forward Tristan Thompson provided some of the Cavaliers’ best defense of the season Thursday afternoon at Cleveland Clinic Courts.
Third-year Cleveland coach Byron Scott, meanwhile, went on the offensive when his job security was brought up.
“I don’t necessarily think I need to defend myself to the public or especially in the papers,” a calm Scott said. “I know what I’m doing here. I know what type of job I’m doing. I know what I’m given. I know what we’re working with. I know the situation we’re under.
“I don’t really feel I need to defend myself. It’s as simple as that.”
Scott’s statements — and Thompson’s defense of the coach — came one day after the Cavs (22-52) dropped their season-high 10th straight game, a 113-95 debacle vs. Brooklyn in which the Nets shot 73 percent from the field in taking a 66-36 halftime lead at Quicken Loans Arena.
Before practice Thursday, the Cavs held a team meeting to clear the air following their 12th defeat in 13 games and 14th in 16 games.
“All those rumors about Coach Scott on the hot seat and all that crap, that’s bogus,” the 22-year-old Thompson said. “It’s up to us to come out and compete and play hard, because we’re the ones out there.
“When he was out there (as a player with the Los Angeles Lakers), you know what happened. He won (three) championships. It’s up to us to come out and play.”
Scott, who is under contract through the 2013-14 season, is 62-160 with the Cavs, the second-worst, three-year record in NBA history immediately following a 50-win season (Cleveland was 61-21 in 2009-10).
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Scott’s .279 winning percentage is also the third worst in NBA history for a coach with a minimum of 200 games with the same team, behind only Chicago’s Tim Floyd (.205, 49-190 from 1998-2002) and Miami’s Ron Rothstein (.232, 57-189 from 1988-91).
“I haven’t had all my pieces, so I don’t know,” Scott said when asked to assess the job he’s done. “I can’t even grade myself right now. If I did, I would probably say a ‘C’ or ‘Incomplete.’”
Cavs general manager Chris Grant was out of town scouting and unavailable for comment, but Thompson, the No. 4 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, was quick to come to his coach’s defense.
“Byron and the coaching staff have been phenomenal this year,” he said. “They’ve given us scouting reports and film. They’ve done what they’ve needed to do for us to be successful. It really comes down to us as players … playing like men.
“They’ve done what they’ve needed to do. We need to come out there and be men and be pros and compete. They can’t control that. That’s up to us.”
Thompson went on to say the 52-year-old Scott is like a father to him and he can’t envision him not coaching the Cavs next season.
“He’s not just Coach Scott,” the second-year pro said. “He’s like my dad. I don’t see that (firing) happening. Coach Scott has done everything that was asked of him to do as a coach.”
Under Scott, youngsters like Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and in recent games Tyler Zeller have shown significant progress.
Scott has also had to deal with serious injuries to Anderson Varejao the last three years, as well as to Irving the last two seasons and to Waiters in 2012-13.
“It’s been tough,” the coach said. “I expected it to be tough. I expected it to take about three to five years. It’s still right on that timetable as far as I’m concerned.
“There’s been some times it’s been a little tougher than I expected. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
While Scott supporters can point to the fact he’s followed Grant’s patient rebuilding plan without complaint — and that the coach hasn’t been given a lot of talent to work with — there are negative factors as well.
Foremost among them is that the Cavs, who often seem to lose focus and lack drive, continue to rank last in the league in field-goal percentage allowed.
Scott has also been criticized by the media for failing to use timeouts, for his lack of in-game adjustments and for poor substitution patterns.
The Cavs have lost games this season after leading by 27 (Miami), 26 (Phoenix) and 22 points (New York), the first two representing the largest blown leads in franchise history.
“If guys don’t fear losing or hate it as much as I do, then we’re going to keep going through what we’re going through,” Scott said. “You have to get to that point where you just hate to lose.”
To drive home that point, Scott said he woke up at 3:33 a.m. Thursday after just a few hours of sleep, unable to stop thinking about how poorly the Cavs had played against the Nets and anxious to get to practice to correct mistakes.
“I had some things on my mind,” he said. “Once I get them off my mind, I feel a lot better.
“When it gets to the point where you’re getting up at 2 or 3 in the morning after a couple hours of sleep and you can’t go back to sleep because the game is on your mind, then that’s the point where (the losing) is getting to you,” he added. “When we get to that point, we’ll start winning basketball games.”
Scott, who was as cordial and cooperative with the media Thursday as he’s been throughout his stay in Cleveland, said he didn’t talk to his wife Anita after the Nets game, much less GM Grant.
“I don’t talk to anybody after nights like that,” he said. “My wife tried to talk to me last night. I don’t even want her to talk to me. That tells you I’m not talking to Chris about it. I won’t even talk to the one who’s sleeping next to me, so I’m not going to talk to him about it at that particular point.
“I need the rest of that night to gather my thoughts and wake up that morning with a renewed look and feel before I start talking about it. I’m not the easiest person to live with when we’re losing games.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.