Waiters Wins It for Wine and Gold
Wrap-Up – As the season hits the homestretch, the Wine and Gold are becoming a very dangerous team – working their fourth-quarter magic for the third straight contest, with Dion Waiters capping a dramatic late-game rally with a buzzer beater to drop Detroit, 97-96, on Wednesday night at The Palace.
The Cavaliers began the final period down 16 points and were down nine with 3:38 to play. But Cleveland’s stingy late-game defense took over from there, holding the Pistons scoreless the rest of the way. On the offensive end, Jarrett Jack scored eight straight points and – after a series of timeouts with 3.2 to play – Luol Deng found Waiters, who jab-stepped, rose and splashed home the 19-footer at the buzzer. It was the third consecutive late-game thriller for Cleveland, which has now won three straight with nine to play.
Matthew Dellavedova led the Cavaliers with a career-high 21 points, going 7-of-9 from the floor, including 5-for-7 from beyond the arc. Waiters followed up with 18 points to go with four boards, four assists and a blocked shot without committing a single turnover in 38 minutes of action. Jarrett Jack saved his best for last, netting 11 of his 17 points in the final period. Anderson Varejao was huge off the bench, doubling up with 12 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.
With their third straight win, combined with Atlanta’s Wednesday night loss to Minnesota, the Cavaliers climbed to within 3.5 games of the Hawks for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Turning Point – As they have throughout their three-game run, the Cavaliers were great on both ends of the floor in the fourth quarter – shooting 60 percent from the field and holding the Pistons to just 32 percent. But the period didn’t start out that way, with Detroit holding on to their double-digit lead through the first half of the fourth. It was the Jack and Waiters Show for the rest of the way, however, as the starting guard duo scored all Cleveland’s final 14 points. Detroit’s Kyle Singler hit a short jumper with 3:38 remaining to make it 96-87 – but those would be the final points for the Pistons. The Cavaliers closed the game on a 22-5 run.
Game Ball – Matthew Dellavedova – Maybe the best story of the Cavaliers’ 2013-14 season, the undrafted rookie continued his stellar late-season run. After netting double-doubles off the bench in consecutive games, Delly went off for a career-high on Wednesday, missing just a pair of shots all night while canning a team-high five treys. Aside from his relentless defense, Delly also added led the squad with six assists to go with three boards and a steal.
By the Numbers – .261, .179 … field goal percentage and three-point percentage of Cleveland’s last six opponents in the fourth quarter. In that stretch, Detroit was the first team to score more than five field goals against the Cavs in the final period – finishing 6-for-19. The Cavaliers have been almost as good on the offensive end in the money quarter – shooting .527 from the floor over the last six.
Quotable – Dion Waiters, on hitting the game-winner on Wednesday night …
”Luol (Deng) told me he was going to come to me, to get separation and be ready. I got separation and I was able to knock the shot down. I knew it was good when I let it go.”
Up Next – The Cavaliers close out their two-game trip on Friday night when they travel to Brooklyn to take on Paul Pierce and the Nets. They return home for a Sunday afternoon matchup with the top-seeded Pacers at The Q and hit the road again next week – facing the Magic for the final time this season on Wednesday and wrapping up with the Hawks on Friday night in Atlanta in a game that, if things fall the right way, could have playoff implications in the season’s final month.
Watch Highlight: Waiters Buzzer Beater