CLEVELAND: Dion Waiters returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing 10 games with loose cartilage in his left knee.
He was only expected to play about 15 or 20 minutes per doctor’s orders, but the goal for the rest of the season is to play him alongside Kyrie Irving as much as possible. That will be difficult to accomplish as long as Waiters remains in a reserve role.
One of the disappointments of the season was the inability to develop more chemistry between Waiters and Irving. They started alongside each other only 34 times in 78 games because of injuries and lineup shuffling.
“I think it’s important for him and Kyrie to play together. The more they can play together, the better,” coach Byron Scott said. “They still have to get to know each other on the basketball court. Not only on the court, but off it, too.”
That’s why the Cavs would like both guards to spend most of their summer working out together at Cleveland Clinic Courts. Scott said he has no interest in sending Irving back to summer league.
Irving has always been a fan of the event and was eager to play in it last summer, but never got the opportunity because he fractured his wrist during the Cavs’ first practice in Las Vegas.
“Seems like bad things happen to Kyrie at summer league,” Scott said.
One day after watching his team squander yet another 20-point lead, Scott’s opinion hadn’t really changed: The Cavaliers stop playing and start watching the clock.
“It’s hard to not look at that clock when you’re that young,” Scott said. “We’ve been in it enough where you have some doubts or you’re looking up there [like] ‘Is it about to happen again?’ ”
The Cavs are the first team in 15 years to lose four games in which they led by at least 20 points. The latest installment was Tuesday at the Indiana Pacers, when the Cavs blew a 20-point lead in the game’s final nine minutes.
“We start playing the game not to lose,” Scott said. “To me that’s almost like you stop playing.”
There have been nights after tough losses where Scott thought he could’ve done more and nights he felt like he did all he could do. The Pacers loss, he said, falls into the latter.
“I thought I did as much as I could do,” Scott said.
Irving and the Pistons’ Brandon Knight have a budding rivalry after they were the first two point guards selected in the 2010 draft.
The rivalry escalated during All-Star weekend, when Irving and Knight went at each other during the Rising Stars challenge. Knight took Irving off the dribble multiple times, but Irving ended the debate with a crossover dribble that left Knight flat on his back.
“These are fun games between friendly, competitive rivals that go back to AAU days,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. “Both are competitors who put the team first.”
The Cavs elected not to send the league footage of the controversial charge called on Irving near the end of Tuesday’s loss. The Pacers’ Jeff Pendergraph appeared to be in the restricted area when Irving ran into him, but officials confirmed the charge call with video replay.
Asked why he didn’t send the footage to league for review, Scott said “They blew a lot of stuff.”
Daniel Gibson (elbow), C.J. Miles (concussion) and Luke Walton (right ankle) remain out. Walton can at least put weight on his ankle and walk without a limp, but he said the ankle is still tender, slightly swollen and bruised.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com.