Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters wanted the ball in his hands when it mattered most in Wednesday's game against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills, and the second-year pro got exactly what he wanted.
Waiters caught an inbounds pass from forward Luol Deng in the near corner of the court and put the ball on the floor before fading away and burying a jump shot as time expired to seal a 97-96 come-from-behind victory.
"I didn't know how to react," Waiters told FSN Ohio. "It was my first game-winning shot. I'm just glad we got the win. I'm glad Coach trusted me, put the ball in my hands and I was able to make the shot.
"Coach drew up a play. The coaches from Detroit called three timeouts and were playing games with us, but Coach ran the same play. Lu said, 'Be ready. I'm coming to you,' and I was ready, and I was able to make the shot."
Before Waiters took the final shot, Cavaliers coach Mike Brown made one, slight adjustment, thinking his shooting guard had enough time to put the ball on the floor and go to the hoop with the intention of at least drawing a foul.
"I changed it after we took a timeout," Brown said of the final play. "We ran the play, couldn't get it in bounds, and so, I just changed it a little bit. I felt Dion would have an opportunity to catch the ball.
"I thought he'd be more open than that because of the way (Rodney) Stuckey played him the last time, but I knew that he'd have an opportunity to catch the ball if we sent him to the corner. The corner was wide open, and so, we had Dion come off. We set a little fake screen and come back to the corner, and 3.2 seconds, that's enough time to catch from the three-point line and make a move or make a play, and Dion made the play."
Following the game-winning shot, Waiters was mobbed by his teammates in front of the Cavaliers' bench, which exploded with energy and excitement as the ball splashed through the net.
During his postgame interview Waiters received a hug from forward Anderson Varejao, who described the final field-goal attempt, as "Big shot, big time." And those who were on the floor with Waiters and Varejao felt the same way.
"Dion can always get a pretty good look off one-on-one, so I was crashing the boards and had a good view," said guard Matthew Dellavedova, who scored a career-high 21 points in the victory. "It looked good all the way.
"We just knew that if we could get a couple stops and get a bit of a run on, we could have a shot at the end, and that's what we had. Dion made a big play."