Mike Brown is firm in his recollection. With 3.2 seconds left, in the Cavaliers' wild 97-96 victory over the Detroit Pistons, he told Dion Waiters to drive toward the basket. Don't shoot. Drive. "That shows how much he listens to me," Brown said, rolling his eyes in mock exasperation. Waiters remembers it all differently, of course. When Brown set up the final play for the shooting guard who had hit only 7-of-19 attempts until then, Waiters believed he had as much freedom as he wanted. "He didn't tell me to drive," Waiters scoffed. "He said if I got a shot, shoot it. He didn't tell me to drive." In hindsight, Brown is happy with Waiters' decision. The 19-footer Waiters swished at the buzzer capped the Cavaliers' wild, up-and-down, back-and-forth contest with the Pistons. The Cavaliers went from a 14-point first-quarter deficit to trailing just 51-50 at half. They went from being outscored 31-16 in the third quarter, to outscoring the Pistons 31-14 in the fourth quarter. The only constants were rookie Matthew Dellavedova, who sank a career-high 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting, and the Cavaliers' will to never give up – even when trailing by 16 entering the fourth quarter. "For us to come back and keep our composure in an environment on the road when we've had some struggles being down late in games is fantastic," Brown said. "It's a testament to our guys competitive spirit. Our guys keep trying to find a way to win games. Whether they win or not, it's good to see just the fight they have them. That's what championship teams do. "Now, we're nowhere near that, don't get me wrong. But to see signs of life in that direction is a great thing as a coach. And the guys feel it, too." The Cavaliers' victory, coupled with Atlanta's loss, moves them to 3.5 games behind the Hawks for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Just nine games remain, however – including one against Atlanta next Friday. The Hawks already own the tiebreaker, though, as winners of the first two contests between the teams.
Unpredictable Cleveland Cavaliers swipe 97-96 victory over Detroit Pistons
Cleveland Plain Dealer | Mar 27