Maxi Kleber Drove A DAGGER Through The Lakers' Hearts With A 3-Pointer To Win In LA As Time Expired


We've seen lately that the LeBron-less Lakers aren't a total pushover and actually look quite dangerous at times. You figured this was a bounce-back spot for them from a bitter loss to the lowly Rockets, especially with Luka Doncic out of the lineup for Dallas...

Welp. So much for that. Now the Purple and Gold are only one game ahead for the 10th and final seed on the play-in tournament bubble. Meanwhile, the Mavs ripped off their second consecutive victory on the heels of an ugly 3-9 stretch.

Once Luka and Kyrie finally figure out how to coexist on the court without, you know, 95% compromising their entire team's defense, Dallas is going to be dangerous as hell. Whether the two superstars click before the heightened reality of the playoffs or not remains to be seen.

As much of a fucking weirdo as Kyrie indubitably is, holy shit is he good at basketball when he's locked in. Dude put up 38 points, six boards and six assists with only two turnovers on Friday night. He scored 13 in the final quarter. Feeling that flow. Blocking out the toxic haters who like to troll him from their courtside seats and the plebs a little further back. Those fools who lack critical thinking skills will never understand him.

Giphy Images.

NEVERTHELESS as I digress, all Kyrie quirk discourse aside, in the most pivotal situation, the aloof, mercurial guy who had big enough britches to hit a winning shot for the Cavs in Game 7 of an NBA Finals didn't force the issue with a contested two. Kyrie instead made the correct basketball play with a sick dish out to Kleber.

You gotta love it when a high-usage, spotlight-stealing star rewards the underrated, underappreciated floor-spacing big man like this. It was Kleber who set a screen to get Kyrie open on the inbounds play in the first place. Not much time remained once Kleber caught the rock. He put elite Lakers defender Anthony Davis to sleep for just a split second as he floated out on the perimeter. Mere tenths of a second and the slightest sliver of daylight from AD were all Kleber's sharpshooting ass needed to snap that thing off and can it for the win.

Kleber actually drilled three clutch free throws with seven seconds remaining when he drew a foul on Davis. Shout out to John Rich for the assist here to document LeBron's befuddled countenance at what had just transpired — and ultimately contributed to costing LA the win:

By the way, this occurred to me for obvious reasons: Imagine if LeBron were in Kyrie's exact situation and passed the ball out to someone who ended up missing it. Can't imagine the vitriol we'd hear. Shoot, even if the guy made it, LeBron might still get his competitiveness/manhood questioned for not keeping the ball in his hands to the bitter end.

LOL we all know where that whole conversation could spiral into. For now, let's appreciate what Dallas did. Even better news: Luka logged a full practice on Thursday, so Mavs faithful, he should be back for Monday's tip-off in Memphis against the Ja Morant-less Grizzlies.

Check out the final three-ish minutes leading up to Kleber's winning trey. Talk about a white-knuckle, playoff-type atmosphere.

Twitter @MattFitz_gerald/TikTok