Waiters lifts Cavs over Pistons at buzzer, 97-96

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 26, 2014 at 10:30 pm •  Published: March 26, 2014

AUBURN HILLS (AP) — The Cleveland Cavaliers aren't ready to throw in the towel.

With only 10 healthy players, the Cavaliers overcame a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Detroit Pistons on Dion Waiters' baseline jumper as time expired. With nine games left, Cleveland remains in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, three games behind No. 8 Atlanta and a half-game behind the Knicks.

The Pistons led 82-66 going into the fourth quarter, but the NBA's worst fourth-quarter team collapsed once again down the stretch.

Jarrett Jack hit a 3-pointer to pull the Cavaliers within 96-90 with 2:49 left, and his short jumper made it a four-point game with 90 seconds to play. After a bad Brandon Jennings miss, Jack drove the lane and hit a floater while being fouled. His free throw made it 96-95 with 53.8 seconds left and completed a personal 8-0 run.

Cleveland coach Mike Brown wasn't ready to give one player credit for the rally.

"For us to come back and keep our composure — that's what championship teams do," he said. "Don't get me wrong, we are nowhere near that level, but to see these signs of life is a great thing as a coach."

The Pistons weren't done. Josh Smith dribbled himself into trouble and missed a desperation shot as the 24-second clock expired, but Kyle Singler knocked the rebound off Waiters to give the Pistons another chance. Jennings ran the clock down to 3.2 seconds, but missed a jumper to give Cleveland a chance to win.

That's when Brown and Pistons coach John Loyer matched up in a duel of wits, calling four straight timeouts before the ball was put in play.

"We knew they were going to call one of two or three plays at the end, and the first time, they ran the play we expected, so we called time out," Loyer said. "The last time, they ran one of the other plays we had discussed, so we were ready."

Unfortunately, for the Pistons, so was Waiters. He took Luol Deng's pass in the right corner and calmly knocked down the winning 20-footer with Jennings' hand in his face.

"Luol told me that he was going to come to me, so I needed to get separation and be ready," Waiters said. "I got the separation, and I knew it was good as soon as I let it go. That's the best feeling in the world."

Rookie Matthew Dellavedova led Cleveland with a career-high 21 points, while Waiters had 18 and Jack 17.

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