When Tuesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings finally ended, Deron Williams found himself nearly gasping for air at the bottom of a pile.
But he didn’t mind it one bit. Well, maybe a little bit.
Williams buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Mavs rallied to defeat the Kings in dramatic fashion, 117-116, in double overtime, before a wild and enthuastic sellout crowd of 20,059 at American Airlines Center.
It was a crowd that came to boo Kings point guard Rajon Rondo, who was going to play his first game in Dallas since he and the Mavs had an acrimonious divorce betweens Games 2 and 3 of the first-round playoff series against Houston last season. However, Rondo didn’t play due to back spasms he suffered during Monday’s game in Oklahoma City.
But that mattered not to the Mavs (20-15), who clawed and scratched and reached down deep to eke out a win that enabled them to snap their two-game losing streak. And Williams proudly wore the hero’s cap as his 3-pointer in front of the Kings’ bench capped a wild night in the longest game of the season for the Mavs that lasted two hours and 47 minutes.
On the winning play, Devin Harris passed the ball to Williams, who gave Rudy Gay a pump-fake and then let fly with the winning basket. As the ball landed through the net and the final buzzer sounded, the entire Mavs’ bench scampered over and landed — and congratulated — Williams.
“Yes, that was definitely my first Mavericks mob scene,” a joyous Williams said. “I was at the very bottom of the pile, then all of a sudden it went dark and I couldn’t breathe.”
Williams eventually caught his breath as his shot certainly took the breath away form the Kings, who have lost 22 consecutive games in Dallas since Feb. 27, 2003.
“We threw the ball to D-Will and he hit a shot,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He had a good screen from Dirk (Nowitzki) — the pass was excellent.”
Yes, that was definitely my first Mavericks mob scene. I was at the very bottom of the pile, then all of a sudden it went dark and I couldn’t breathe.
Mavericks guard Deron Williams
Thanks to DeMarcus Cousins and Gay, the Kings built a 116-109 lead with 1:20 left in the second overtime and appeared well on their way to exorcising their demons in Dallas. But the Mavs refused to give in and kept knocking on the door until they barreled right through on Williams’ game-winner.
“Yes, that was the first option,” Williams said of his shot. “There was a little bit more action after that for Wes [Matthews] to come up and get a three, but Devin made a good read.
“Then I slipped out there and got confused, found myself open. They came flying at me, I made a pump fake and let it go.”
And with that clutch shot by Williams, away went the ills that resulted in the Mavs’ first two losses of the 2016 calendar year. And away went any pain felt by Williams, who was a game-time decision after leaving Saturday’s contest against New Orleans with tightness in his left hamstring.
The winning play was first set up when Nowitzki nailed a 3-pointer as the Mavs inched to within 116-114 with 26.3 seconds left. Instead of fouling the Kings, sending them to the free throw line and extending the game, Carlisle gambled and decided to let Sacramento play out the 24-second shot clock.
The Kings last defeated the Mavericks in Dallas on Feb. 27, 2003.
That’s precisely what the Kings did as Darren Collison fired up an air ball as the 24-second shot clock expired. That gave the Mavs possession with 2.3 seconds left.
“I saw the time difference and I knew they were going to be trying to kill the clock on the one hand, and on the other hand probably be rushed,” Carlisle said. “It’s just a gut feeling.
“I knew the difference was upwards of three seconds — I thought it was a little more than 2.3 — but the clock keeper isn’t always perfect either.”
Had that shot by Collison hit the rim and bounced a few times, the game may have ended. But Carlisle, who passed his mentor, Chuck Daly, to become the 21st all-time winningest coach in NBA history with 639 victories, played a hunch.
“We got lucky there,” Carlisle admitted. “We had a good scrambling possession, Collison shot an air ball and then we got the ball back.
“It was one of those nights the team that had the ball last was probably going to win the game.”
Nowitzki certainly did his part in assisting with this win as he poured in 23 points in 44 minutes. Also, Matthews had 20 points in 43 minutes, and Zaza Pachulia finished with 17 rebounds in 40 minutes.
In addition, backup center JaVale McGee produced his best game of the season as he collected season highs of 13 points and 11 rebounds in racking up his first double-double of the year.
“McGee played a great all-round game,” Carlisle said. “I thought he played really solid.
“He was active, he made key shots, he was a factor rolling to the basket, his rim protection was a big factor. He was terrific.”
We got lucky there. We had a good scrambling possession, Collison shot an air ball and then we got the ball back. It was one of those nights the team that had the ball last was probably going to win the game.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle on the last two possessions
But all wasn’t perfect for the Mavs, who saw small forward Chandler Parsons leave the game for good in the second half after he ran into Cousins and injured his right hip.
Carlisle said of Parsons: “He had to leave the game and couldn’t return because he got hipped in his knee on one of Cousins’ illegal screens.”
Cousins finished with 35 points, 17 rebounds, six steals and 10 assists. He also scored his team’s first nine points in the second overtime as the dominated inside the paint, and even floated outside to pop in a 3-pointer.
“I think it was an awesome game,” Cousins said. “Both teams left it on the floor.
“We don’t want to make any excuses. Of course we are shorthanded, but we had plenty of opportunities to win the game tonight. It was a good game, it was a fun game.”
And in the end, the Mavs wound up having the most fun. Thanks in large part to that game-winner by Williams.
Carlisle passed his mentor, Chuck Daly, to become the 21st all-time winningest coach in NBA history with 639 victories.