Dion Waiters poured in 27 points on 12-for-23 shooting to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers past the San Antonio Spurs by a score of 72-66 in the opening game on Thursday of NBA Summer League at UNLV.
The Cavaliers were led by Waiters. The fourth overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft had an impactful year for Cleveland and averaged 14.7 points on 41% shooting during the 2012-13 season. In addition to his 27 points he tallied six rebounds and one assist.
San Antonio was able to overcome an early 6-0 deficit. Nando De Colo provided an early scoring punch but Marcus Denmon was the go-to-guy for the Spurs. Denmon came off the bench and recorded 19 points, four assists and two rebounds. He connected on 5-of-10 attempts from beyond the arc and helped put San Antonio in command for most of the first-half Cleveland was able to regain control as Waiters drove to the rim and scored to give the Cavaliers a 32-31 lead with just over two minutes to go in the half. He accounted for 15-of-35 first-half points for Cleveland, who went into the locker room trailing 36-35 at the half.
Cleveland came out strong in the second-half as Waiters continued to impress with his ability to get to the basket. They outscored San Antonio 21-13 in the third quarter to take a 56-49 lead entering the fourth.
Denmon kept the Spurs in it as he added two more 3-pointers to his tally. His second one sparked an 11-2 run which brought the game to a 65-65 tie after Hollis Thompson connected on a three-pointer with 3:31 remaining.
Justin Harper responded for Cleveland with a layup, driving the basket, drawing a foul and hitting the foul shot. The traditional three-point play put Cleveland up 68-65.
San Antonio has an opportunity to recapture the lead late. With the score 69-66 in favor of Cleveland, Thompson went to the free throw line with 29.8 second remaining. He hit the firs free-throw and went on to miss the second, however he was able to get his own rebound to give the Spurs a chance to tie. Following a timeout, the Spurs went back to Denmon who wasn't able to connect from long distance. Matthew Dellavedova collected the clutch rebound to ice the win for Cleveland.
The win for Cleveland clinches them a spot in Saturday's quarterfinals as they will matchup against the winner of the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls game. San Antonio will wrap up their summer league action in the consolation bracket tomorrow at 5 P.M. in Cox Pavillion.