DALLAS -- The Mavericks came dangerously close Monday to falling victim to a fourth game-ending, buzzer-beating shot -- and second by the Clippers -- after Jason Kidd threw the ball away with less than 10 seconds to play, but Caron Butler's open 3-point attempt skipped off the rim.
"We got a little lucky at the end," Dirk Nowitzki said. "I think earlier in the season that shot would have gone in for sure. But now, if you’re on a little roll, stuff like that bounces your way."
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle calls it having the basketball gods on your side, and the way to get them on your side, Carlisle has said, is to please them by playing all aspects of the game consistently with a hard-nosed disposition.
Back on Dec. 29 when Kevin Durant threw in the first buzzer-beater from 27 feet away to drop Dallas to 0-3, Carlisle said the basketball gods were not on the Mavs' side. Apparently the gods have enjoyed the team's overall effort and rewarded it during its four-game win streak.
But, what did happen on that near-fatal turnover coming out of the 20-second timeout and Kidd inbounding in the backcourt in front of the Mavs bench?
Chris Paul made a 3-point shot to cut Dallas' lead to 94-92 with 17.8 seconds to go. With the shot clock turned off, the Mavs inbounded and six seconds later called a 20-second timeout in the backcourt with 11.9 seconds to go. Delonte West subbed in for Brendan Haywood and the Mavs set up for the inbounds play.
"We only had two seconds to get [it] across," Nowitzki said. "When the shot clock is turned off, most people don’t see that, but we only had two seconds to get it across because we had a couple dribbles in the backcourt. Plus, we couldn’t advance the ball because we already dribbled so we had to take the ball out in the backcourt and only had two seconds to get it across."
That's why Kidd heaved a pass into the frontcourt in the direction of Shawn Marion and West. Realizing the Mavs had little time to advance the ball, the Clippers had the pass well-defended, deflected it and Paul gained possession. He bounced a one-hopper ahead to Butler on the right wing. Butler had an open look, but he couldn't connect for his sixth 3-pointer of the game.
"Hey, we dodged a bullet there," Carlisle said. "To get on a winning streak of any sort in this league, you’ve got to have a little good fortune. But, you get the good fortune when you’re doing the other things hard and playing hard enough to get luck going your way a little bit."