BOSTON: Semih Erden was supposed to get 10 games to prove himself with the Cavaliers, but coach Byron Scott ran out of patience after seven. Erden is out of the rotation again, replaced at least momentarily by Ryan Hollins and Samardo Samuels.
“I kind of lied about that,” Scott joked of his 10-game assessment.
Scott was intrigued to see what a healthy Erden could deliver and even hinted that Erden could start at center if he played well, freeing Anderson Varejao to return to the sixth man role, where he has excelled. But Scott said Sunday he was “disappointed” in Erden’s performance this season. He is averaging 3.4 points and 2.1 rebounds in about 12 minutes per game. He has also battled foul trouble most nights, but Scott said Erden’s problems relate to effort.
“He has to play a lot harder,” Scott said. “If he plays hard every single night, he has a chance to be a good player.”
The Cavs acquired Erden from the Boston Celtics at last season’s trade deadline. Sunday marked Erden’s first game back at TD Garden since the trade. He said he was pleasantly surprised so many people remembered and recognized him.
Erden will be a free agent this summer, but the Cavs can make him restricted by extending him a qualifying offer after the season, giving them the right to match any offer he receives.
“It’s out of my control and it’s not my decision,” Erden said of getting pulled from the rotation. I think when I had a chance to play, I gave 100 percent. It’s the coach’s decision and I respect him.”
Scott still sees potential in Erden and isn’t sure when he’ll go back to using him. He hopes this time sitting on the bench will motivate him to play harder.
“I gave him a fair chance,” Scott said. “This stint of games he hasn’t played, I’m hoping that gets to his head and when he gets another opportunity, he’ll take advantage of it.”
Daniel Gibson missed Sunday’s game because of pain in his neck. He said his neck started bothering him in Friday’s loss to the New Jersey Nets, but he can’t pinpoint an exact moment when he injured it.
“There had to be some trauma to it, because it’s painful,” Gibson said. “It’s not just stiff. It hurts to actually turn my head. Something had to happen. I tried to explain to Max [Cavs trainer Max Benton] I can’t tell you when or what happened, but I can definitely feel it.”
Without Gibson, Scott relied more heavily on Anthony Parker. Scott had been trying to limit Parker because of his strained lower back, but he played him the entire first quarter until Parker had to leave for the locker room with 28 seconds left for more treatment. He returned late in the second quarter.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers gets down to Duke to watch his son, Austin, play for the Blue Devils whenever possible. With Saturday’s off day, Rivers was able to fly to Durham, N.C., to watch the Blue Devils’ 83-76 win over St. John’s.
Television cameras were all over Doc, as they are anytime he attends one of his son’s games. But he remains stone faced all the time.
“I wish they’d stop that,” Rivers said of the camera time. “One day they’re going to see me saying, ‘What the [expletive]?’ I hope that never happens. So that’s the explanation of the poker face all game. Inside, there’s things going on, I can tell you that.”
As Cavs rookie Kyrie Irving was walking by Scott during his pregame availability with reporters, Scott interrupted his thought process to poke fun at his 19-year-old rookie.
“His breath smells like Similac right now,” Scott said, referring to the baby formula. “Tristan Thompson, too.”
Scott cracked himself up with the comment and said he’s been using it on the rookies all season.
“Finally got to say it in front of you guys,” Scott said. “Now it’s really out.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.