LOS ANGELES — Maxi Kleber drilled the winning 3-pointer on the buzzer on a crosscourt pass from Kyrie Irving, who scored 38 points in the Dallas Mavericks’ stunning 111-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
With the absence of Luka Doncic, Kleber managed a remarkable emulation of the injured superstar who has repeatedly smacked the Lakers with big punches over the years. The tall German man’s teammates hailed him after he silenced the Lakers crowd with his only 3-pointer of the evening.
“I’ve never had a shot like that,” grinned Kleber, who scored six of his 10 points in the last 7.2 seconds.
Kleber hit three free throws first after Anthony Davis unwisely fouled him on a 3-point try, and Davis made just one of two for Los Angeles with 6.7 seconds left after being fouled on the subsequent inbounds pass. Dallas brought the ball to Irving, who drew a double-team and found Kleber for an open 3-pointer that was released just before the horn over Davis’ outstretched arm.
“When he passed it, I knew I just had to fire it fast,” Kleber said. “It was a pretty incredible feeling. When I released him, I saw the ball in the air and I was like, ‘Oh damn, he has a chance to go in.’ Suddenly it went in and the next thing I knew, the whole team was running towards me. It was a pretty cool experience.”
The game was also a redemption for Kleber, who threw away an inbound pass with 1.8 seconds left against San Antonio on Wednesday night. Spurs then equalized and won in overtime.
PHOTOS: Maxi Kleber hits 3 at buzzer, Mavericks stun Lakers 111-110
“He knew Ky and really wanted to win,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said of the final. “With the doubles team, he had to give up the ball. That’s just trust in his teammates and Maxi was in the right place at the right time.”
Irving scored 13 points in the fourth quarter of his return after a three-game injury layoff for the Mavs, who avoided getting into a three-way tie with the Lakers and Timberwolves in the tight Western Conference rankings.
“We fought hard to get back into the game, so it’s difficult,” said Davis, who also missed crucial last-minute free throws in losses to Boston and Philadelphia. “You have to be able to win basketball games, whether it’s at the free throw line or when I’m hitting the right read defensively.”
Davis had 26 points and 10 rebounds before making a handful of enormous last-minute errors for the Lakers, who missed 12 of their 31 free-throw attempts and failed to score a field goal in the final 3:16 of another shot into their playoff hopes. Los Angeles led by four points and had the ball with less than 20 seconds remaining but still lost for the third time in four games.
“We’re taking our free throws, we’re probably not having this conversation,” said Lakers coach Darvin Ham.
Austin Reaves scored 16 points for Los Angeles and Dennis Schröder had 15. Los Angeles overcame a nine-point deficit to start the fourth quarter but choked the stretch while LeBron James watched in street clothes.
James sat out his 10th straight game since the Lakers’ win in Dallas last month, and the Lakers fell to 5-5 without the NBA’s career leading scorer.
Mavericks: Doncic missed his fourth straight game with a bruised left thigh. He hopes to return early next week. … Irving played 39 minutes after missing the last three games with a sore right foot, while Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 12 points after sitting out Dallas’ last game with an injured left calf.
Lakers: Coach Darvin Ham said James’ rehabilitation sessions were going well. The 20-year veteran is scheduled to be re-examined next week. … D’Angelo Russell struggled, posting 11 points and 11 assists while going 0 for 6 on his 3-point attempts.
Mavericks: Monday night in Memphis.
Lakers: host Orlando on Sunday night.
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