CLEVELAND: Byron Scott has stressed the importance of taking care of the basketball for weeks. With the Cavs still struggling to reduce their number of turnovers, Scott thought of another idea this week. He’s making them run.
Now, any time a player commits a turnover in practice, the entire team lines up on the baseline and runs gassers. How many is up to the coach.
“Until I get tired,” said Scott, who most certainly doesn’t take part in the exercise.
Scott’s point is simple: The Cavs enter today’s game against the New Jersey Nets leading the league in turnovers, averaging 17.2 per game. They’ve committed at least 20 turnovers in a game seven times in 17 games. They’re 2-5 when it happens, but they’ve lost their last five. They had 19 turnovers in Wednesday’s victory over the dysfunctional New York Knicks.
“That orange ball is so precious, you have to make them understand how important it is every single time we come down the court,” Scott said. “If you want to be a running team, there’s a certain amount of turnovers you have to live with and I’m OK with that. But when we get in the high teens and the low 20s, that’s a little too much.”
Scott puts the bulk of the responsibility on 19-year-old rookie Kyrie Irving.
“He’s the head of the snake,” Scott often says.
Given the team’s offensive deficiencies, Scott wants to push the tempo whenever possible and take advantage of easy baskets. When the opportunity isn’t there, it’s up to Irving to recognize that and pull the ball out to set up the offense. It’s a lot of pressure to put on a rookie and Irving certainly doesn’t always make the right decisions.
Irving is averaging 3.6 turnovers per game, which ties him with the Suns’ Steve Nash for the fifth-most in the league. What’s worse is that Irving’s minutes rank among the fewest.
Irving is averaging a turnover every 8 minutes he’s on the floor. The New Jersey Nets’ Deron Williams, whom the Cavs will see tonight, leads the league in turnovers at 4.3 per game, but averages one turnover every 8› minutes.
“It starts with me,” Irving said recently, referring to the Cavs’ turnover problems. “You have to limit those going forward if you want to win games.”
It’s certainly not all on Irving. Players have taken turns recently flinging the ball around the court — and too often into the stands. Whether it’s badly timed alley-oops, miscommunications on offense or just bad decisions at bad times, Scott has shaken his head in disgust each of the last two games as the ball has sailed several rows into the crowd.
“He’s right, we have to take care of the ball,” center Anderson Varejao said. “But we have to stay aggressive, we can’t just stop playing because of it. We’ll get it right.”
Harangody to Canton
The Cavs assigned forward Luke Harangody to their Development League team in Canton. Harangody appeared in just five games for the Cavs, averaging 2.6 points.
Going to Canton will give him the opportunity to play every day, which obviously he wasn’t doing in the NBA. Earlier this week, the Cavs recalled Christian Eyenga from the D-League.
Irving made his acting debut in an NBA commercial filmed for ESPN. In the short skit, television commentator Mike Breen is rummaging through a couch looking for his watch when he finds a headband, a retainer and … Irving.
Irving doesn’t have any speaking lines, but loved the experience.
“It was a great commercial,” Irving said. “It was really fun being with those guys and interacting with them.”
New chef in town
Renowned chef Rocco Whalen has brought “Rocco’s Nachos & Tacos” to the main concourse at Quicken Loans Arena. Whalen is the owner and executive chef of Fahrenheit restaurant in Cleveland and made his Food Network debut Thursday night in his new show Fat Chef.
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