Davis scored 17 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter, including a jumper from the top of the key with nine seconds left, to lift the Cavaliers to a 104-100 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
“I love taking those game-winning shots,” Davis said. “Lots of pressure, I like to ease the pressure. I feel that I’m capable of getting my shot off and hitting that last pull-up jumper so every time I get it, I feel like I can score in the end.”
The Cavaliers snapped a six-game losing streak and won for the first time in three tries under Smart, who took over for the remainder of the season after John Lucas was fired last week.
Smart is best known for a game-winning basket that gave Indiana the 1987 national championship over Syracuse.
“Bimbo Coles came in and gave me the game ball. I’ll always cherish it. It’ll go right up right up there with that other one (for Indiana),” Smart said. “We did it with what we’ve been preaching to each other and that’s playing defense, trusting your defense more than your offense.”
The victory was not assured, however, until Andre Miller lost control of the ball when he went up for a jumper with three seconds left.
Miller, a 1999 first-round draft pick of the Cavaliers, was playing his first game in Cleveland since being traded to the Clippers in July. He managed just eight points and made just 2-of-11 shots from the floor.
“Andre didn’t play well. Obviously, he didn’t play well, he was 2-for-11,” Clippers coach Alvin Gentry said. “We didn’t make the plays. It wasn’t a typical Andre game.”
Miller said there was no extra incentive to beat his former team.
“I haven’t pressed at all,” Miller said. “Since I have been here, I just try to let the game come to me.”
The Clippers lost the final three games of a four-game road trip and wasted a big game from Corey Maggette, who tied a career high with 34 points. Maggette made 11-of-13 free throws.
Davis scored nine straight points during a 15-4 run that gave the Cavaliers a 92-87 lead with four minutes left. He made 12-of-13 free throws and also had 10 rebounds.
The Clippers kept their composure and Maggette had three free throws in a 6-0 spurt that gave the Clippers the lead at 98-97 with 1:30 remaining.
After Davis sank two free throws, Miller gave the Clippers a 100-99 edge when he Chris Mihm was called for goaltending. That set the stage for Davis’ game-winner.
“We’re glad to get this one for Keith,” Mihm said. “His defense-first focus has been big for us.”
Dajuan Wagner had 20 points and Chris Mihm added 10 and 10 rebounds for the Cavs.
Maggette scored 17 of his points in the first half to help the Clippers take a 51-47 lead at intermission.
Los Angeles led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter, opening a 30-20 bulge on a 3-pointer by Quentin Richardson with 46 seconds left.
The Clippers twice had leads as high as eight points in the third quarter, the last coming on a short jumper by Maggette that made it 67-59 with 5:33 left.
Michael Olowokandi returned to the Los Angeles lineup after missing the last three games with a thigh bruise and scored 17 points.
Maggette and Brand each had 11 rebounds for Los Angeles.
Cleveland’s Darius Miles, who was acquired in the deal for Miller, had 11 points.