With the game on the line Tuesday night, a Cleveland Cavaliers point guard made the biggest play of the night, but for once it wasn’t Kyrie Irving.
The point guard who provided the clutch moment was Shaun Livingston, who is starting in place of Irving while the All-Star is out with an injured shoulder. Livingston has been a great mid-season pickup for the Cavaliers and had another solid game on Tuesday. He also made the biggest play of the night. It was actually two plays, but let me explain.
The Cavaliers had the ball and were leading by three points over the Washington Wizards with just over 20 seconds to play.
With Irving out of the lineup, the Cavaliers were having trouble scoring in the final minutes of the contest, while the Wizards seemed to be scoring every time down the floor. All of the momentum belonged to the Wizards, and it looked like they might steal a win.
With the shot clock winding down on the game’s pivotal possession, Livingston had the ball and drove from the right side and put up a bank shot that just missed. He kept fighting on the play, though, and managed to grab part of the rebound and get a jump ball call with Wizards center Nene.
And then jumping against Nene, Livingston somehow was able to win the tip.
With possession of the ball, the Cavaliers were able to take the clock down a little further, and then Waiters got fouled and made both free throws. With just over 13 seconds left to play, those free throws put the Cavaliers up by five points and pretty much ended the game.
Livingston’s jump ball plays saved the game for the Cavaliers, and were huge for several other reasons, too.
First of all, Nene is big guy and is four inches taller than Livingston. Winning a jump ball against a guy who is four inches taller than you is impressive.
Also, Livingston isn’t just some ordinary player. This is a guy who has had major knee problems that kept him out of action for a long time and could have ended his career. It’s great to see him be able to jump so high against a bigger guy and make a play like that in a big moment.
Finally, the Wizards cut Livingston earlier in the season, so it must have felt outstanding to grab the rebound to get the jump ball in the first place. Then it must have felt even better to win the tip and pretty much give the Cavaliers the victory.
It wasn’t a play that will end up on many highlight shows, but it’s a play that won the game for the Cavaliers on Tuesday night.