DALLAS – Deron Williams started on the right block with 2.3 seconds left in double overtime, came off a Dirk Nowitzki screen at the opposite elbow, curled to the corner, caught the inbounds pass from Devin Harris and pump-faked to get Rudy Gay to fly by him.
Then Williams swished a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, the biggest shot of the Dallas Mavericks' season so far.
Williams faded away as he released the shot, stumbling into Sacramento Kings coach George Karl and falling to the floor. A moment later, he was at the bottom of a dogpile, buried by his teammates and Mavs owner Mark Cuban.
"That was definitely my first Mavericks mob scene," said Williams, who scored a team-high 25 points in 43 minutes despite being considered questionable Monday morning because of nagging tightness in his left hamstring. "All of the sudden, it went dark, and I couldn't breathe."
What a perfect way to wrap up an imperfect win for Dallas, which desperately wanted to snap a two-game losing streak before starting a three-game road trip and needed double overtime to do it, erasing a seven-point deficit in the final 1:20 to pull out a 117-116 victory.
"As regular-season games go, you're not going to see much more exciting than this," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "I know there were some people who were beating the traffic tonight, and they're going to be disappointed that they did, because they missed out."
The Mavs almost missed out on the opportunity for Williams to be the hero, adding to the chaotic nature of their comeback against the injury-riddled Kings.
After Nowitzki drilled a 3-pointer to trim the deficit to two points with 26.3 seconds remaining, Carlisle took a massive risk by not ordering the Mavs to foul. Carlisle's "gut feeling," as he called it, paid off for the Mavs, thanks to ex-Dallas point guard Darren Collison, who launched an airball at the end of the 24-second shot clock.
If that shot had bounced off the rim, it would have been a disaster for Dallas.
"I don't know what we were doing, honestly," Williams said. "I was just trying to look -- are we fouling? It just happened so quick. By the time we looked up, it was like eight seconds. At that point, I guess we just ride it out.
"We just got really lucky with the 24-second clock violation, because if the ball hits the rim, there's a chance we don't have time to do anything after."
As fate would have it, everything went right for the Mavs in the final 80 seconds.
"When you're down seven with 1:20 to go, you have to pitch a perfect game," Carlisle said. "The odds are 1-in-100 that you can actually do it, but you've got to have guys who have belief."
You've also got to have guys who can get quick buckets. Williams and Nowitzki, who had 12 of his 23 points in the final 2:31 of regulation and two overtime periods, were up to the challenge.
The rally started with a driving layup by Williams, who scored just four seconds after a timeout that gave hundreds of Mavs fans a chance to head for the exits.
After a stop on the other end, the Mavs didn't need much time to score again. Williams found Nowitzki in transition for a tough 3 that was contested by DeMarcus Cousins, whose dominant performance (35 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, six steals) put the Kings in position to win.
Then came the blessing from the basketball gods in the form of the 24-second violation, saving Carlisle from intense second-guessing about his decision not to foul.
That set up Williams' finest moment so far as a Maverick.
"If D-Will doesn't hit an unbelievable shot, we're feeling pretty sick right now in the locker room," Chandler Parsons said. "We were very fortunate to get this win."
The fans that stuck around were fortunate to see it.