CLEVELAND — After Cavaliers General Manage Koby Altman fired coach Tyronn Lue in October following an 0-6 start, Lue spent some time at the Los Angeles Clippers facility with longtime mentor Doc Rivers in an advisory role.

As painful as the Cleveland ending had to be for Lue, who led the Cavs to a 128-83 record, three consecutive NBA Finals and the 2016 championship, Clippers coach Rivers said it may have been a blessing in disguise.

Lue, 41, experienced anxiety, chest pains and had difficulty sleeping for 1½ years. Last March, the issues forced him to step away, missing nine games over a span of 17 days.

During his time away from the game, Lue has lost weight and Rivers said health-wise Lue is “doing great.”

“That’s the most important part for him,” Rivers said before the Cavs hosted the Clippers on Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena. “Even though he would never admit it, maybe this happened at the perfect time for his health, and I’m serious about that. We all need to do better in that category.”

Rivers said Lue has been traveling extensively this NBA season.

“I’m a little jealous at times. Every time I call him, he’s somewhere else,” Rivers said. “He’s actually had a good time, but he wants to get back in for sure. And he deserves to be back in.”

Rivers gave Lue his first job as an assistant with the Boston Celtics in 2011-12. Lue also worked under Rivers with the Clippers before joining the Cavs as associate head coach in 2014-15.

 

Hitting 6,000

Brandon Knight said he always had faith that he would return to the court after tearing his left ACL, which forced him to miss the 2017-18 season.

But the 27-year-old Cavs guard still appreciated reaching the milestone of 6,000 career points on Wednesday, when his 13-point performance against the Milwaukee Bucks gave him 6,006.

“I guess I’m happy to accomplish that. I definitely want to continue to keep going,” Knight said after shootaround. “With what I’ve been through in my career, missing a whole year, definitely has some significance. But I like to look back on things when I’m done. I’m still in the middle of this, so it’s kind of tough to see what’s going on. I have bigger goals.

“I’m excited about it because a lot of people don’t get to reach that. I thank God, give God the glory for being able to make it this far and play this long in the NBA. It’s motivation to keep going further.”

Knight played in just 12 games for the Houston Rockets this season before coming to the Cavs as part of a three-team trade Feb. 7. In 17 games with Cleveland, he’s averaged 8.8 points and 2.5 assists. In 14 games since the All-Star break, he’s shooting .429 from the field and .373 from long range.

Going into Friday, Knight had scored in double figures in six of the last seven games.

 

Campy’s mark

Jordan Clarkson needed 10 bench points against the Clippers to pass Campy Russell’s record for most points by a Cavs reserve in a single season, and he reached that number on a second-quarter layup. Russell totaled 1,210 in 1975-76.

“I don’t play for stuff like that; I play because I have fun and I love the game,” Clarkson said Wednesday. “That’s a cool accomplishment. I was a starter my first two or three years, then I got moved to the bench. It’s kinda been my role since.

“If I can make a mark on the organization, I want to be here and be a part of what’s going on here, that would be pretty cool.”

Rivers, 57, said he was fortunate to start at point guard his first eight seasons in the league with the Hawks. But he doesn’t believe players like Clarkson and the Clippers’ Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell should consider coming off the bench a lesser role.

“I don’t know when this bench thing became such a bad place to come off of,” Rivers said. “I always try to remind them of John Havlicek and Kevin McHale and all these other guys. Maybe they’re too young. The bench is not the worst thing — it’s about finishing games, that’s what we try to tell guys. Most of those guys are on the floor at the end of the game. Who starts — it’s nice that you get confetti thrown when your name is called — but other than that, I don’t know what it really gets you.”

Havlicek played in 1,270 games for the Celtics without a start, and McHale started 400 of his 971 games with the Celtics.

 

Thanking Fratello

In his first season as an NBA coach in 1983-84, Mike Fratello drafted Rivers in the second round out of Marquette for the Atlanta Hawks. Fratello, the former Cavs coach now an analyst for NBA TV who also broadcasts for the NBA on TNT, took Rivers to the Marble Room for dinner on Thursday night.

“It took me getting stitches, taking charges for him and I finally got dinner. That was awesome. Thanks, Mike,” Rivers said to Fratello, who attended his pregame news conference. “You know the other time he bought dinner for me was in the Soviet Union. He made dinner for me. That’s a true story.”

 

Cheers for UC Irvine

Rivers was in a jovial mood after No. 13 seed UC Irvine upset No. 4 Kansas State earlier in the day. Rivers’ son Spencer is a senior guard for UC Irvine.

“What do you want to talk about, the Anteaters?” Rivers said. Asked if his bracket was still intact, he said, “That part is.”

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.