Maxi Kleber drilled the winning 3-pointer at the buzzer on a pass from Kyrie Irving, who scored 38 points in the Dallas Mavericks’ stunning 111-110 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
With Luka Doncic sidelined, Kleber did a remarkable imitation of the injured superstar, who has repeatedly beaten the Lakers with big shots over the years.
Kleber first hit three free throws with 7.2 seconds to play after Anthony Davis unwisely fouled him on a 3-point attempt, and Davis made just one of two for Los Angeles after getting fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass. Dallas got the ball to Irving, who drew a double-team and found Kleber for an open 3-pointer released just before the horn.
Irving scored 13 points in the fourth quarter of his return from a three-game injury absence for the Mavs, who avoided falling into a three-way tie with the Lakers and the Timberwolves in the tight Western Conference standings.
Davis had 26 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who missed 12 of their 31 free throw attempts and couldn’t make a field goal in the final 3:16 of another blow to their playoff hopes. Los Angeles led by four points and had the ball in the final minute but still lost for the third time in four games.
Austin Reaves scored 16 points for Los Angeles, and Dennis Schroder had 15. Los Angeles overcame a nine-point deficit to begin the fourth quarter but choked down the stretch with LeBron James watching 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 scoring leader.
Doncic missed his fourth consecutive game with a left thigh bruise for the Mavericks. Irving returned after missing the past three games with a sore right foot, while Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 12 points after sitting out Dallas’ last game with a bruised left calf.
The Lakers returned to open a five-game homestand after a crushing loss to the Rockets in which Los Angeles curiously rested Davis on the second night of a back-to-back despite not having another actual center on the roster, allowing Houston to score 78 points in the empty paint.