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Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011

Scott not worried about job security

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) Byron Scott's emotions run the gamut these days. Cleveland's coach is alternately mad, disappointed and frustrated with his historically awful team.

However, he's not worried.

"Not one bit," he said.

Despite the Cavaliers being in the grips of a 26-game losing streak that has turned them into a late-night TV punchline and punching bag for any NBA team that takes the court with them, Scott says he's not concerned about being fired during a troublesome first season in Cleveland.

"I just have a lot of confidence in what I do," Scott said Thursday after practice. "I know I'm the right man for the job. We obviously need to keep improving, but I know I'm the right guy for the job."

He's got a tough gig right now.

Scott's security, and his performance with a young roster, have come under greater scrutiny now that the Cavaliers have matched the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1976-77) — longtime laughingstocks — for the longest losing streak in North American professional sports history.

Cleveland hasn't won since Dec. 18, and unless the Cavaliers, who have dropped 36 of 37, can beat either the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday or Washington Wizards on Sunday, they'll likely head into next week's All-Star break riding a losing streak stretching across two months.

But as bad as things are, Scott, who was part of turnarounds in New Jersey and New Orleans, believes he's doing all he can to improve. And the Cavaliers have faith in him.

"Byron has the complete and total support of myself and our entire organization," general manager Chris Grant said in an e-mail.

As the losses have piled up, Scott has maintained his public composure. But following Wednesday night's 103-94 home loss to Detroit, a game in which Cleveland seemed uninterested at times, Scott lambasted his players for their general lack of effort. They weren't ready, and it was beyond him why.

He hasn't backed off his hard stance. There's only so much he can do, after all. Players have to play.

"I never needed a coach to motivate me to go out and play basketball, to go out and compete," said Scott, who won three NBA titles playing for Pat Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers. "That has nothing to do with us as coaches. All we can do is put you in the best position possible. You've got to come out wanting to compete. Our guys didn't do that last night.

"That's on all of us, but more on them because they're the ones going out there on the court."

Scott was particularly bothered by the Cavaliers' overall commitment to winning. They had recently shown signs of being ready to bust out of their epic slump, and with a beatable Pistons team in town, it appeared Cleveland might finally end its slide.

Instead, loss No. 26 was secured and the sarcastic website www.didthecavswinlastnight.com provided those not following the Cavaliers closely with the same one-word update: "No."

Forward Antawn Jamison said the blame falls squarely on Cleveland's players. Jamison was acquired last season in a trade from Washington to help Cleveland win an elusive title that remains out of reach. Now, he's part of history that no one wants.

"We can't make excuses, we can't hide from the rest of the world," he said. "We're in a bigger spotlight now than we were in last year when I got here. Life is just funny. I try to tell these guys to continue to stay upbeat, continue to be positive, try to enjoy what you're doing. But it's definitely a disappointment to have a streak like this.

"We're in the record books and there's nothing we can do about it now."

Except not make things worse.

Jamison praised Scott and Cleveland's other coaches, who have had to deal with an assortment of injuries — Anderson Varejao and Mo Williams, arguably the Cavaliers' top two players are still out — and forced them to use inexperienced players in key roles.

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