The Dallas Mavericks picked up one of their biggest wins of the season on Friday night in stunning fashion, as Maxi Kleber hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to lift them over the Los Angeles Lakers, 111-110.
After Anthony Davis missed one of two free throws with 6.7 seconds remaining, the Mavericks had the ball with a chance to tie or win the game. But for most of those 6.7 seconds, it looked like they might not even get a shot off, as Kyrie Irving dribbled around and around with multiple defenders right on top of him. Eventually, he spotted Kleber open on the wing and fired a pass his way. With no time to waste, the German big man caught and fired in one motion, and hit nothing but net as time expired.
The bench erupted and rushed the floor — March Madness-style — burying their hero in a pile of bodies.
While the game-winner was obviously the biggest shot of the night, it was not the only key play Kleber made down the stretch. With 7.2 seconds left and the Mavericks trailing by four, he drew a foul on Anthony Davis while shooting a 3-pointer, calmly stepped to the line and sank all three free throws. All of Kleber’s 10 points in the game came in the fourth quarter, and six of them came in the final 7.2 seconds. Who needs Luka Doncic anyway?
This was the second consecutive dramatic victory for the Mavericks, who knocked off the San Antonio Spurs in overtime on Wednesday and have now won back-to-back games for the first time since before the All-Star break.
For all the excitement after the Kyrie Irving trade, the past month has been a real grind for the Mavs. Injuries and poor defensive performances have put them right in the middle of the wild playoff race in the Western Conference. With their win over the Lakers, they’re now 36-35, which — for the moment — has them in sixth place. However, they’re only up on the Golden State Warriors via a tiebreaker, and have just a two-game lead over the 11th-place Utah Jazz.
The Mavs are going to need every win they can get down the stretch, and Kleber’s shot may wind up being the difference between a guaranteed playoff spot and being in the play-in tournament.