Dion Waiters almost won the game for the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night, but instead he played a big part in the Wine and Gold losing the contest.
Waiters, a rookie guard for the Cavaliers, hit a huge shot with less than 10 seconds to play in the game to give Cleveland a two-point lead over the San Antonio Spurs. The Cavaliers had played well all night, and it looked like they were going to pull out a pretty good win.
On the Spurs final possession, guard Tony Parker penetrated into the lane. Waiters, who was guarding Kawhi Leonard at the time, slid over toward the basket as if he was going to help on Parker.
Waiters didn’t really help, though, and pretty much stood just outside of the key while Parker got past the Cavaliers defense and into the paint, and then passed the ball out to a wide open Leonard. Waiters could not get back out to disrupt Leonard in time, and the Spurs shooter knocked down an uncontested three-point shot to win the game.
“I blame myself,” Waiters said after the game. He added that this is the second time this season that this type of thing has happened to him.
“I just have to do a better job of staying home,” Waiters said about his defensive play in late-game situations.
Hopefully, this loss will be a learning opportunity for Waiters. He said he felt terrible about the defeat, and it’s likely that the bad feeling from this loss will stay with him for a while.
The Cavaliers played very well in the game, and they deserved to get the win. Waiters had an outstanding game, and was a main reason the Cavaliers had a chance to pick up the victory. He scored 20 points on 8 for 15 shooting while guard Kyrie Irving was struggling, and the jump shot Waiters knocked in to give the Cavaliers a short-lived lead was a very nice play.
It was great to see Waiters stepping up in that situation and getting himself open for a shot, and it was even better to see the Cavaliers playing so well against one of the top teams in the league.
In the end, though, it turned out to be another tough loss for the young Cavaliers. Hopefully, the memories of this game will stay with Waiters and the other Cavaliers for a while, and will help them win more of these close games in the future.