ATLANTA -- Dion Waiters insists his last shot hit the rim but everyone else in Philips Arena, including his teammates on the Cleveland Cavaliers bench, saw an air ball.
Alonzo Gee, standing under the basket, thought the shot was good; Waiters was in rhythm.
Suddenly, the ball was in Gee's hands. "Oh!" he gasped, and tipped it in as time expired to beat the Atlanta Hawks 113-111 Friday night.
"I should have attacked," Waiters said, "but my 1-2 pull-up, I usually make those shots. If I had it to do over again I'd take the same shot. Maybe a little bit closer."
His miss enabled Gee to get his first NBA game-winning shot.
The Cavaliers' (4-12) four-game losing streak ended behind a flurry of fourth-quarter points off the bench by Jeremy Pargo -- he made 10 of 22 shots overall -- and Anderson Varejao's 20 points and 18 rebounds. Waiters added 21 points.
"Tonight," Cavaliers coach Byron Scott laughed, "Andy Varejao again was fantastic and everybody else didn't (stink)!"
Josh Smith led the Hawks (9-5) with 25 points and Al Horford had 15 points with 11 rebounds. All five Hawks starters scored in double figures. But after turning the ball over only five times through three quarters, they turned it over seven times in the fourth.
Smith admitted, "I was ball-watching" and let Waiters get the good look.
"One thing I tried to make perfectly clear to our guys this morning," Hawks coach Larry Drew said, "is that we had to totally disregard this team's record.
"Maybe we needed a game like this," he said. "We've been home for a little while and we've dodged a couple of bullets with some teams."
Devin Harris, getting the start in place of the injured Kyle Korver, was perfect in the first quarter, shooting 3 for 3 and going 3 for 3 from the foul line for nine points. The Cavaliers weathered the Hawks' early surge with a boost from Tyler Zeller, who scored eight points in 4 minutes off the bench.
Down 29-27 after the first quarter, the Cavaliers took better care of the ball in the second quarter and the Hawks' defensive intensity was a couple of notches lower than where it needed to be. Waiters scored 14 points for the Cavaliers in the second quarter.
For the Hawks, DeShawn Stevenson's 12 points came on four 3-point shots, and Ivan Johnson let fly with a 3-pointer as time expired to cap a 17-2 run and take a 67-56 lead at the half.
Notes: As Daniel Gibson was testing his sore right elbow in pregame warmups, Cavaliers coach Byron Scott, asked who was available to play, quipped, "I don't know until we go out for the National Anthem sometimes!" Gibson later declared that he was ready to go. ... Kyrie Irving, out with a hairline, non-displaced fracture of his left index finger, did not make the trip to Atlanta, thereby raising the team's average age. ... Scott said of his young players learning how hard they have to play in the NBA every night, "It's all about the Andy Varejao mentality." Varejao's 14.9 rebounds a game coming into Friday's contest ranked first in the league among qualifying players. ... The Cavaliers waived Luke Harangody and signed Kevin Jones on Thursday. ... Hawks coach Larry Drew remains concerned about the team's focus in this two-week stretch of home games, noting that the Hawks failed to execute plays several times coming out of timeouts in Wednesday's final-seconds win over the Bobcats. ... Korver was not available Friday night due to back spasms that caused him to leave late in the third quarter of the game against the Bobcats.