CLEVELAND — With 20 games still left in the season, Cavaliers coach Byron Scott isn’t the slightest bit concerned with the draft lottery.
“You’ve got to play the game to win,” he said Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena prior to a game against one of the teams he used to coach, the New Orleans Hornets. “I don’t care if it’s game No. 10 or game No. 82.”
It was actually game No. 62. Entering it, the Cavs were 12-49, which was 1½ games worse — or better, as far as draft lottery odds are concerned — than the Minnesota Timberwolves (15-49). Sacramento began the day 15-45, while Washington was 16-45 and Toronto was 17-46.
The Los Angeles Clippers (23-40), who traded their first-round pick to the Cavs as part of the Baron Davis deal, would have the ninth choice if the season had ended prior to Sunday and the lottery went according to form.
Scott, though, is concerned only about winning games, something Cleveland has been doing with increased regularity lately. Entering Sunday, the Cavs had won four of their last eight after losing 36-of-37.
“It’s probably going to be the same way until I leave this earth,” Scott said. “I still want to win basketball games.”
Scott said Davis would move into the starting lineup in place of Ramon Sessions “sometime in the near future.”
“It could be four games into the future, it could be six games into the future,” he said. “I don’t know yet.”
Prior to Sunday, Sessions had averaged 18.8 points on .513 shooting, 3.9 rebounds and 8.5 assists in his last 13 games. His assist average was sixth in the league in that span.
Davis had 18 points and five assists in his Cavs debut Friday in New York, including 12 points in the fourth quarter as Cleveland recorded its first road victory since Nov. 9.
With New Orleans in town, Scott got a lot of questions about his relationship with Davis, with whom he feuded while with the Hornets. The coach downplayed them all and said he’s getting along great with the point guard.
Scott added he wouldn’t necessarily have to get along great with a player, as long as that player helped him win and listened to directions.
“I’d play my mom if she could help me win a game,” he said.
Maybe Scott was trying to build up Samardo Samuels’ confidence, or maybe the coach was exaggerating to make a point.
“He has more talent and is more athletic than Kevin Love,” Scott said Sunday morning at the Cavs’ shootaround.
The 6-foot-9, 260-pound Samuels averaged 19.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in his first two starts for the Cavs. Love, an All-Star for the Timberwolves, is averaging 20.9 points and a league-best 15.7 rebounds in 64 games.
- Cavs center Semih Erden, acquired from Boston at the trade deadline, was cleared by doctors and played in Sunday’s game. He was 0-for-3 from the floor.
- Cavs guard Daniel Gibson missed his third straight game with a bruised thigh. Scott said the guard would play Tuesday against Golden State if he makes it through practice today.
- Hornets power forward David West, who sprained his ankle four minutes into a game against Memphis on Friday, was in the starting lineup.
- New Orleans small forward Trevor Ariza missed the game with a hip injury. Rookie Quincy Pondexter (2.8 ppg) started in his place.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or email@example.com