NEWS

Cavs' Devin Brown knows you've always got to be ready

Chris Beaven

Left on the bench for three games, Devin Brown did the only thing he could do.

He watched and waited.

The 6-foot-5 Cavaliers swingman also took note of something important. “A lot of guys in this league really don’t box out,” Brown said.

Brown took full advantage of that flaw Monday when he got a chance to play again. His off-balance putback late in the first overtime helped the Cavs beat the Bucks, 104-99, in double overtime.

It was one of several big plays Brown made down the stretch in his return to the floor. “I hadn’t played the last three games, so I had a lot of energy,” he said.

The return of LeBron James and Larry Hughes from injuries left Brown sitting after being a regular part of Head Coach Mike Brown’s rotation the first 21 games.

“He wasn’t out of the rotation because he was playing bad,” Mike Brown emphasized after Monday’s game. “I’ve been in search mode. That’s what I still am in.”

With a number of options at shooting guard or small forward, the coach is still figuring out who can do what for the Cavs.

“I want to try to give guys opportunities to play, and I don’t want it to be a one game and done,” Mike Brown said. “I felt it was Devin’s turn (Monday).”

Brown responded with 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists in 30 ½ minutes. He shot 4-of-7 from the floor.

Brown hit a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter. He took a charging foul later in the quarter. He helped force the second overtime by grabbing an offensive rebound in traffic and scoring as he got knocked sideways with 16.8 seconds left. It was one of his three offensive rebounds.

“If we’re going to take some of the (long jump) shots that we take,” Devin Brown said, “at times you have a crease where you can get offensive rebounds, especially an important one, so you’ve got to take that chance and go after it.”

Brown, in his first year with the Cavs, entered the NBA as an undrafted free agent in 2002. He has played with four other teams, paying his dues with plenty of time on the bench his first three years.

“You always have to be ready,” he said. “I’ve been in this league six years, and it was the same thing in San Antonio. You don’t know what’s going to happen. If there’s a set rotation, then you know what’s going to happen.

“But you always have to be ready, because if you go out there and you make a couple mistakes, then you are right back in the same situation. Whether it was (Monday) or some of the other nights, I was going to be ready.”

The Cavs do not look like they will have a set rotation anytime soon. What Brown brings to the floor, though, does not change.

At 220 pounds, he is big and strong enough to mix it up as a defender and rebounder. He is not a pure shooter, but he understands the game well. He is willing to attack the basket and tries to make sure the ball and bodies move when he’s on the floor.

“He did a lot of intangibles,” Cavs All-Star LeBron James said of Brown’s play Monday. “He capitalized on a lot of second chance points, brought energy and made some big shots for us.”

Expect to see more of Brown when the Cavs play at New York tonight before hosting the Lakers on Thursday.

“He’s going to continue to get an opportunity,” Mike Brown said, “but I can’t sit here and say this is going to be how it’s going to be for the next 50, 60 games or whatever we have left.”

Devin Brown knows he must remain ready.

“In a situation like that where I hadn’t been out there, it’s easy to go the other way with it,” he said. “It was a test, and just like in school I think I did pretty good.”

Reach Repository sports writer Chris Beaven at (330) 580-8345 or e-mail: chris.beaven@cantonrep.com