DENVER: The trickle-down effect of the Luol Deng trade can be felt throughout the rest of Mike Brown’s rotation, particularly in the backcourt. A surprise casualty has been Jarrett Jack, whose minutes were slashed in each of the two games prior to Friday’s game at the Denver Nuggets.
Jack’s minutes steadily decreased on each of the first four stops on this road trip. He played less than 13 minutes in Wednesday’s loss at the Portland Trail Blazers, which prompted him to return to the court after the game ended to get more shots up. C.J. Miles, Earl Clark and Alonzo Gee joined him since none of the four have been playing much lately. They remained on the floor for nearly an hour, then the team bus returned to the arena to pick them up.
“Just trying to stay sharp, trying to keep my rhythm,” Jack said. “Obviously, we had a tough loss and for most of us, the best way to clear our heads is when we’re in the gym. Instead of letting that terrible feeling linger until the morning or until we had another opportunity to cancel it out, just stepping in between the lines and putting some of that road work in is something that kind of cures the evil, so to speak.”
Brown said he’s trying to play six guards right now, and obviously included Deng in that grouping along with Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Miles, Jack and Matthew Dellavedova. He has committed to keeping Dellavedova in his rotation despite the limited minutes for backups. Jack has been the primary backup point guard, while Dellavedova has been playing off the ball.
“It’s not that I’m choosing one over the other,” Brown said, referring to Jack and Dellavedova. “They’re both playing together with the second unit. ... It’s probably tough for those guys to handle, but that’s part of it.”
Without mentioning names, Brown said he has discussed the role reductions with a couple of players.
“I’m going to keep talking to them,” Brown said.
“They shouldn’t be happy about it. But hopefully they keep supporting the guys whoever’s in front of them out on the floor.”
Brown received his start in the NBA with the Nuggets. His roommate while he lived in Denver was Greg Sherman, who is now the general manager of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. Brown was the video coordinator for the 1993-94 Nuggets team that snuck into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, then upset the top-seeded Seattle SuperSonics.
They were the first eighth seed to ever beat a No. 1 seed and it’s only happened one other time (the New York Knicks in 1999).
Asked what he remembered about that season, Brown quipped: “My awful flat top. If you do anything, don’t show any clips. Get rid of the pictures and let’s just move on.”
Bernie Bickerstaff, then with the Nuggets, gave Brown his break as an unpaid intern. Now Bickerstaff is an assistant on Brown’s staff. Brown still has vivid memories of that series in 1994, which the Nuggets trailed 0-2 before rallying to win the final three games.
“It was an unbelievable series,” Brown said. “The thing that I remember was just how quiet the crowd was when that final buzzer went off. There were, I don’t know, 17,000 people in the stadium, and 25 people were running around embracing each other trying to find somebody to squeeze.”
Friday’s game concluded the longest road trip of the season. The Cavs play their next five games at home, beginning with Monday’s 1 p.m. Martin Luther King Day matinee against the Dallas Mavericks. ... Since Dec. 29, Anderson Varejao is tied with the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan in rebounding (14 per game).
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