'Maxi-mum Fun': 3 Big Takeaways From Mavs' Buzzer-Beating Win Over Lakers
- Dalton Trigg
Maxi Kleber provided the final heroics, and Kyrie Irving had a stellar performance after coming back from a three-game absence as the Dallas Mavericks stunned the Los Angeles Lakers on the road in walk-off fashion.
Although the Dallas Mavericks, to put it mildly, have had an up-and-down 2022-23 campaign, the heroics of Maxi Kleber at Crypto.com Arena on Friday night felt like somewhat of a turning point for their season.
With just 6.7 seconds remaining, the Mavs had the ball for the final possession while being down 110-108. Dallas had been in these types of situations many times – 12 to be exact, with an 0-12 record as the outcome of those games. This time, though, things were different, as Kyrie Irving threw a laser pass to Kleber on the left wing for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave the Mavs a thrilling 111-110 win.
Here are the three biggest takeaways from Friday's Hollywood classic.
Kyrie 'Fourth Quarter' Irving Shows Up Yet Again
Irving is the best fourth-quarter scorer in the league with an average of 9.8 points in the final period. That was on full display yet again on Friday as Irving posted 13 of his game-high 38 points in the fourth. Although Lakers forward Anthony Davis is an intimidating rim presence, that didn’t keep Irving from operating in the paint throughout the night.
The scoring is nice and much-needed for the Mavs, but Irving’s incredible passing ability and trust in his teammates is just as admirable.
The Lakers were sure Irving would be the guy taking the final shot for the Mavs, but after receiving a late double-team, Irving flung a bullet pass to Kleber with just 1.7 seconds remaining for what ended up being the game-winner.
Kleber had a fourth quarter to forget in the Mavs' overtime win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, as he had several miscues in the final two seconds of regulation which led to the game going into the extra period. However, as Irving told him after his game-winner against the Lakers, "that's redemption."
Kyrie Irving. Great basketball player. Possibly an even better teammate.
Christian Wood's Underrated Bench Performance
Lost in the late-game drama was the overall performance of Christian Wood off the bench. The versatile and usually-efficient big man shot just 5-15 from the field, but he finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, four steals and a block in 34 minutes of play.
Wood has performed well against the Lakers all season, and he still found a way to keep that going on Friday despite his shot not falling at the rate he's used to. Many have called for coach Jason Kidd to start Wood alongside Irving and Luka Doncic when he returns, but if he's playing 30+ minutes with the same kind of intensity we saw against the Lakers, it likely doesn't matter if he's starting or coming off the bench.
Although Wood wasn't on the floor for the final possession of the game, he was one of the many elated Mavericks to mob Kleber in a dogpile on the Lakers' home floor after the game-winning buzzer-beater.
Mavs Move to No. 6 in West Standings ... For Now
By whatever means necessary, the Mavs had to have this win, especially considering everything else that went on in the West standings.
Three teams close to the Mavs in the West playoff race – the Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans – all lost on Friday night. That, paired with the Mavs' dramatic Hollywood win, means Dallas has once again climbed out of Play-In Tournament range and currently occupies the No. 6 seed in the West.
Needless to say, with minimal margin for error down the stretch, the Mavs' next two games against the Memphis Grizzlies and Warriors will be as close to playoff basketball as it gets without actually being the real thing. The Mavs will look to win three consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 10.
Friday night felt like a turning point for the Mavericks' season. We'll find out soon if it really was or not.
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