With 0.2 seconds remaining in the critical Lakers vs. Mavericks matchup at the Crypto.com Arena on Friday, Dallas forward Maxi Kleber stuck a dagger in the heart of the Lakers and their fans with a game-winning three-pointer. With the Mavericks trailing in the closing seconds, Kyrie Irving took the inbounds pass; and handed it off to a wide-open Kleber, who knocked down the three-pointer to seal the deal for the win, 111-110.
The Lakers (34-37) have dropped their last two games and are currently No. 10 in the Western Conference. The Mavericks (36-35) are in the No. 6 position and own the tiebreaker against the Lakers in the conference. With the loss, the Lakers are tied with the Utah Jazz for the tenth seed in the Western Conference, the final play-in tournament spot. The Lakers have 11 games left to gain ground as post-season play looms in the background.
Eight-time NBA All-star Anthony Davis did not shy away from shouldering the loss. Davis finished with 26 points, ten rebounds, three assists, and one block shot in 37 minutes of playing time.
“I already came in and told them the last play was my fault,” Davis said after the loss.
Student Athlete of the Week: Jadyn Harris
LeBron Gives Honor to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar After Breaking Scoring Record
The Lakers entered the game with its star player LeBron James still in street clothes, who remains out with a right foot tendon injury. Kyrie Irving returned to the Mavericks lineup after missing the last three games due to soreness in his right foot. The Mavs continued regular season play without Luka Doncic for the fourth straight game, who is out with a left hamstring injury.
The Lakers trailed by as many as 14 but fought back to lead by five in the fourth quarter. In the final minute of the game, up by four, Davis committed a costly 3-point shooting foul on Kleber. Kleber made all three shots, making it a one-point game. On the next possession, Davis was fouled and split two free throws opening the door for the Mavericks.
Irving directed the Mavericks final play, giving up the ball as he faced a double-team in the closing seconds. Irving played for 39 minutes, scoring 13 in the final quarter, shooting 14-of-23 from the field, 5-of-9 from 3-point range, six rebounds, and six assists.
“Knowing Ky, he wanted to go for the win,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said about the final play. “With the double team, he had to give the ball up. That’s just trust with his teammates, and Maxi was at the right place at the right time.”
After the loss, Davis spoke to the media: “There were seven seconds, and he dribbled almost the whole clock out. We were just reading [Kyrie] knowing he was probably gonna take the last shot. He went into the shooting motion and just came down with it; he didn’t shoot it. So, when he went up, it kind of pulled me in; I was going for the rebound, thinking he was shooting it. And he made the pass to Kleber, who made the shot.”
Lakers forward Austin Reaves played 32 minutes; 16 points, five rebounds, two assists, one block, and one steal. Other Laker contributors: guard Dennis Schroder, 15 points, five assists, and three rebounds; D’Angelo Russell, 11 points, 11 assists, two rebounds, and one steal; forward Rui Hachimura, 10 points, two steals, and 2-2 three-point shots; and forward Malik Beasley, 10 points and six rebounds.