The Dallas Mavericks are in a tough spot. Kyrie Irving made his return to the court on Friday night, but before that, he missed three-straight games. Dallas had been struggling mightily heading into their game on Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers, but they scraped out a win.
Irving got the ball with just a few seconds left on the clock, with the Mavericks down by two points. LA double-teamed him, sending multiple defenders his way, but he made a gorgeous cross-court pass to Maxi Kleber, who nailed the game-winning three. After the game, Irving spoke about the play and his connection with Kleber.
“It seemed like three of them were around me at the end of the game,” Irving said via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “But I’m just grateful that I was able to have my head on the swivel. I thought about, for a split second, forcing that two up to tie the basketball game. But I saw Maxi open. I saw AD [Anthony Davis] kind of helping a little too much. So, I tried to get it into his shot pocket, and I’m glad I got it to him with enough time to at least get the shot off. I could easily be sitting in this position with a loss. It was just that type of game. But I’m glad we were resilient. We got really lucky and fortunate at the end of regulation tonight, so I’m glad it worked out for us.”
Irving played extremely well in his return to the court. He posted 38 points, six rebounds, and six assists on 14-of-23 shooting from the field and 5-of-9 shooting from behind the three-point line.
As for Kleber, he had a pretty quiet game before nailing the clutch shot. He finished the game with 10 points, four rebounds, and two assists on 2-of-4 shooting from the floor and 1-of-3 shooting from beyond the three-point arc.
Anthony Davis Sounds Off on Kyrie Irving
After the game, Davis also had something to say about the final play, explaining what was going through his head when he was watching Irving work.
“With seven seconds, he [Irving] dribbled almost the whole clock out,” Davis said via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “Me just reading him. Knowing that he’s probably going to take the last shot. He goes into his actual shooting motion and just comes down with it. He doesn’t shoot it. So, when he goes up [and] it kind of pulled me in. I was going for the rebound. Thought he was shooting it. He made a pass to Kleber. He makes the shot.”
Darvin Ham Discusses Final Play vs. Mavs
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham also had an explanation about what he saw during the final possession of the game.
“I mean, he got pretty much a line-drive pass over to Kleber,” Ham said via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “He started torching us a little bit down the stretch, thus, our decision to start blitzing him and double-teaming him. We made it difficult. Tried to be as active as possible. He found an open guy, and we didn’t get there fast enough. But AD had a last-minute, outstretched contest. But it’s tough. It’s like Indiana all over again. But at the end of the day, NBA players are highly talented. An elite skill level.”