NEW YORK — In Sunday’s pre-game prattle, master motivator Byron Scott referred to the home hoedown with the surging Sixers as the biggest game of the season.

Sure enough, thanks to his capable coaching, the Nets built a 13-point third-quarter lead.

Then, quicker than you can say “6-11 since the All-Star break,” Lord Byron’s students atrophied faster than the notion to erect a new arena in Newark.

Alas, genius is a terrible thing to squander on the non-receptive. Which is why Scott, on the eve of Jersey’s second most important game of the season (in Boston), felt obliged to devise a floor plan for alma mater Arizona St. in its NCAA opener against Memphis.

“If I win, I’ve been told I’ll get my Nets job back,” John Calipari confides.

Last summer Eddie Jordan almost certainly would have been hired to coach the Nuggets had his overly aggressive agent, Rob Ades (my rep as well) not tried to circumvent GM Kiki Vandeweghe by attempting to contact owner Stan Kroenke.

Upset at Denver’s glacial approach regarding the initiation of contract negotiations, Jordan decided to re-enlist as Scott’s assistant for two years at $750,000 per year; knowing, for sure, he’ll be offered a top spot (a perfect fit for the Hawks) elsewhere.

Unless, of course, the Nets continue to crumble and management (Lou Lamoriello, Rod Thorn and Jason Kidd) ultimately decide in disfavor of Lord Byron. Jordan would have to be the leading candidate to succeed Scott.

The relatively bad news is, the days for newly recruited coaches making big bucks are over. According to those in the know, the Hawks, Cavaliers, Clippers, Raptors and any other team that might be in the market for a pit boss will only be willing to go as high as $2 million per year — maybe not even that high.

This is markedly depressed from the $4 million-to-$7 million annual salaries (and part ownership, in some cases) bestowed upon Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, George Karl, Larry Brown, Lenny Wilkens, Doug Collins, Don Nelson, Rudy Tomjanovich and Rick Adelman and possibly Jerry Sloan.

Even John Lucas, a habitual loser, got $3 million per over three from the Cavs two years ago.

Not that there aren’t exceptions on both sides: Memphis impresario Jerry West felt compelled to bequeath Hubie Brown with $9 million over three years to lure him out of retirement; whereas Jeff Van Gundy, Mike Dunleavy, or a marquee college name should have no trouble commanding old-fashioned opulence, especially when it dawns on Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan it might be nice for the Knicks to have a real coach.

Just when you thought the Cavaliers undermined the integrity of the game simply by showing up every night, guard Ricky Davis pulled a narcissistic stunt unprecedented in a sphere infected by egomania.

In the waning seconds of Sunday’s blowout of the Jazz, Davis — twitching one rebound shy of his first triple double — took an inbounds pass, went straight to the wrong basket, missed a shot intentionally, inhaled his “10th board” and scarred the team’s most impressive win of the season.

Thankfully, Cleveland’s official scorer declined to credit Davis — thinking he could get away with the atrocity because there were no witnesses — with either a field goal attempt or a rebound.

No wonder GM Jim Paxson did what he did. Some two months after Lucas was fired and the guy still can’t control his players.

Aside to David Stern: If you’re sincere about safeguarding the sanctity of the league and preserving a family atmosphere, you’ll not only abolish obvious acts of violence and profanity, but also the brazen selling of sex by scantily attired cheerleaders and the overtly repugnant rap ritual (as if bleeping out a multitude of words disguises their meaning) that endlessly pollutes arenas . . . as well as dip deeply into Davis’ next pay envelope for conduct detrimental to humanity.

Focusing on the fumigation of one or two and not ALL of the above will be interpreted as a flagrant faux pas.

In that same vein, it was sad, though fitting, I suppose, to eyeball the Clippers celebrate wildly following their one-point success at home over the Raptors. It was as if Lamar Odom — whose improbable jumper decided matters with 2.6 seconds left after he had hoisted a four-foot air ball from six feet out moments before — won it for his ex-Rhode Island coach Jim Harrick.

Odom was so overcome with joy I’m compelled to give him top billing over Davis for immaturity.

Why won’t I be surprised when the Wizards decide not to commit long-term, big-time this summer to Jerry Stackhouse?

When the Pacers are staggering (two wins in last 14 games), I demand to see Reggie Miller assume more leadership in terms of asserting himself offensively and vocally; the guy was more rambunctious and encouraging when he was on the bench injured. I don’t care what play Isiah Thomas calls, it’s absolutely obscene watching one of the greatest shooters of all time passively feeding the ball to Jermaine O’Neal.

Can’t tell you how relieved I am to see Kobe and Shaq lead the Lakers back into the win column against the Timberwolves and Bucks. For a while there, I wasn’t sure whether it was Mark Madsen’s or Kareem Rush’s team.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.