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Final thoughts: Spurs 96, Cavs 95

By Jason Lloyd Published: February 13, 2013
Waiters late on 3ptr vs Spurs
The Spurs' Kawhi Leonard shoots the game-winning basket over Dion Waiters during Wednesday in Cleveland. San Antonio won 96-95. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

CLEVELAND: Final thoughts from the end of the first half of the season...

* So I just watched the end of the game again. I gave Dion Waiters too much credit. He didn't sink off Kawhi Leonard, he never made it to Leonard.

* Waiters never really made it out of the key. That makes the last defensive play even worse. Waiters lost his focus and it cost the Cavs a victory. 

* It's a shame, too, because Waiters was playing one of his better games of the season. The big shot he hit to put the Cavs up in the final seconds could've been huge for his confidence. Instead, he left the Q hanging his head.

* With the game tied at 93 in the final seconds, Waiters said Kyrie Irving told him to keep the ball and take the shot. Irving stood in the corner and watched. If that's true, it's fairly interesting that Irving opted to defer, yet Byron Scott stuck with him for the final play.

* I actually don't have a problem with Irving taking the final shot despite his woeful (and I mean WOEFUL) night. Irving went 0 for 10 in the second half. His last basket came with 4"34 left in the FIRST QUARTER. Irving called it one of the worst games of his life and I doubt anyone would argue with that.

* Still, he has five game-winning shots in his career, including two this year. If there is a list of guys I'd want to give the ball to in the final seconds for a game winner, he's certainly in my top five and probably in my top three.

* Yes, Waiters was shooting the ball well. Yes, Waiters hit the big basket 6 seconds earlier to give the Cavs the lead. But Waiters also had just given up the go-ahead basket and was hanging his head a little. Could he have gathered himself mentally in time to take the shot? Hard to say.

* While I don't mind Irving taking that shot, I do mind that the Cavs never seem to run a play for him in those situations. It's always just, "Give the ball to Kyrie and get out of his way." It worked at Toronto, when Irving just walked the ball up the floor and shot a 3. But it would be nice to see more offensive creativity than just give it to the kid and get out of his way.

* Byron Scott said there was no alternative plan. The only play was to get the ball to Irving, who started the final play under the basket. He came to get the ball, but Gee fed it to him near half court with Irving headed in the wrong direction. And once he slipped, the Cavs had little chance of winning.

* The  Spurs shot 45 percent, which is a little more acceptable than what opposing teams have typically shot against the Cavs. But the Spurs are also on their rodeo road trip and have been gone for the last week. They have dealt with injuries and weren't at their best. I don't think the lower shooting percentage was solely based on improved defense, but at this point, the Cavs will take it. Any opponent that shoots under 50 percent these days feels like a moral victory.

* Before the game I said the Cavs would struggle to stay with the Spurs because this is one of the two most fundamentally sound teams in the league (along with the Bulls). The Spurs don't beat themselves, you have to beat them. The Cavs nearly did, but one defensive mistake at the end of the game cost them. 

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