The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night on a game winning three from Maxi Kleber, 111-110. Kyrie Irving led the Mavericks with 38 points while Anthony Davis was the high point man for LA with 26. The game puts Dallas back over .500 and vaults them up to sixth in the tight race for the playoffs in the Western Conference.
Strong shooting from the Mavericks in the first allowed them to keep pace with an active Lakers offense. Dallas fouled Los Angeles often in the opening period though the Lakers failed to convert a number of attempts. High octane offense was the order of the quarter, with seven different Dallas players scoring to go along with eight different Lakers getting at least a point. After twelve minutes, LA led Dallas, 33-29.
The offense continued for both teams in the second, with contributions in scoring from nearly every single Maverick that played. Even Davis Bertans got in on the action, knocking down a pair threes. Dallas slowly built up a lead to as many as nine points as the Laker defense wasn’t anywhere to be found. The Mavericks carried a 62-54 lead into the half, scoring 18 more points from beyond the arc.
Quarter three saw more of the same for Dallas, inching ahead bit by bit, building up a lead to as many as 14 points. But the Mavericks have given up leads all year and the Lakers rallied back. Kyrie Irving picked up his fourth foul around the eight minute mark, which opened the door for Los Angeles to work back into the game. Los Angeles managed to cut the lead all the way down to one twice, but a wild 8-0 run in the final 80 seconds gave the Mavericks some breathing room and an 89-80 lead heading into the fourth.
The final frame was physical, with the Lakers forcing the issue and drawing fouls while cutting the lead bit by bit. Kyrie Irving kept Dallas ahead with tough shot making. Dallas put Lakers into the bonus with five fouls in the first four minutes of the quarter and the only thing keeping Dallas ahead was missed Los Angeles free throws. The offense dried up for the Mavericks and the Lakers eventually overtook Dallas, leading by five. And yet Irving wouldn’t let Dallas go quietly, scoring from the line to pull Dallas back repeatedly. Three made Maxi Kleber free throws with seven seconds cut the Laker lead down to one. Anthony Davis hit one of two free throws and with six seconds left, Kyrie Irving found Maxi Kleber just before the buzzer to give Dallas the 111-110 lead.
Kyrie Irving is breathtaking
Watching the Kyrie Irving basketball experience is really remarkable. After three games missed with a foot injury, he comes back and doesn’t miss a beat. 14 of 23 from the floor for 38 points along with six rebounds and six assists. The myriad of ways he can score and affect the game has been really delightful to root for and experience. Pair that with his mental toughness and it’s safe to say he’s a really unique player in Dallas Mavericks history. Considering his foot injury and the foul trouble he dealt with in this game, it would’ve been understandable for him to play cautious or get affected by the calls. Instead, he just kept coming. The read he made in the final seconds with two players on him was simply spectacular, the ball left his hand with 1.4 seconds and Kleber made a clean look. What a play. I’m still in awe.
PUT THIS IN THE MAVS HALL OF FAME #MFFL | @dallasmavs on @BallySportsSW pic.twitter.com/tGny6EiWg3— Bally Sports Southwest (@BallySportsSW) March 18, 2023
Three point shooting beats offensive rebounding and points in the paint
Consider these stats
- The Lakers had 54 points to the 42 points in the paint for Dallas
- LA had 54 team rebounds to 41 for the Mavericks
- Los Angeles had 30 free throw attempts compared to just 19 for Dallas
- The Mavericks were called for 26 fouls to just 18 for the Lakers
- Dallas scored 48 points from beyond the arc to just 15 for the Lakers.
Dallas got beat everywhere it counts all game long and yet the won. This is the power of three point shooting.
Maxi Kleber with a gutsy performance
The expectations for a guy coming back from a torn hamstring should have been low. Yet any Mavericks fan with eyes knows his impact to the team defense the last several years with his offense being a bonus. Outside of a strong return following his surgery, it’s safe to say Maxi hasn’t looked his best and that’s understandable. Asking him to fix this defense is too tall an order and he hasn’t made a big impact yet.
So watching him go to the free throw line and calmly sink three free ones (despite being a 58% shooter from the line this year) was nice. Seeing him get a chance at a game winning three and absolutely nailing it was awesome. He deserves it.
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