KAs soon as Maxi Kleber dropped the buzzerbeater, his Dallas Mavericks teammates charged at him and knocked their hero to the ground. “I’ve never had such a game winner,” said the NBA professional after the lucky moment to 111:110 at the Los Angeles Lakers, “it feels great. I have to look at that again myself.”
Kleber became the man of the day more or less out of necessity. With the score at 108:110 and hardly any remaining playing time, Kyrie Irving had the basketball in his hand, it was up to the superstar to turn the game around with the last attack. But that didn’t work this time.
“I saw Kyrie being marked by two players and looked at the shot clock. There were still a good 2.5 seconds left,” Kleber said later: “He couldn’t take a shot. When he passed me, I knew that I just had to finish quickly.” Kleber pocketed his three from a good eight yards out.
The reactions to the feat were not long in coming. “Maxxiiiiiiiii!!!!” tweeted Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. “What a moment,” wrote his team, “Oh my Maxi,” according to sports network Bally Sports Southwest.
And glue? He was “simply happy” that the ball went in. Irving told him the hit was “amends.” Because Kleber had recently made a dropout.
In the Texas duel with the San Antonio Spurs, he threw the ball wide with a score of 121:119 with 1.8 seconds on the clock. Spurs equalised, luckily Dallas won in overtime.
“We need every win at the moment. It doesn’t matter how it comes about,” said Kleber (10 points) on the success over the Lakers around his national team colleague Dennis Schröder (15 points). It’s mighty tight in the play-off race.
The Mavericks, still missing star player Luka Doncic, tied with champion Golden State Warriors in sixth place in the west. The Lakers, who started again without LeBron James, have to worry about participating in the championship round in tenth place.
Kleber also received a particularly good mark for his heroic deed. The NBA awarded a 4.0 on their “Horry Scale”, named after buzzerbeater specialist Robert Horry, because of the throwing difficulty with only 0.2 seconds remaining. Not much was missing from the maximum of 5.0.