The Dallas Mavericks celebrate Maxi Kleber for his game winner at the Los Angeles Lakers, even coach Jason Kidd celebrates. Dillon Brooks continues to diligently collect penalties and the OT thriller between Chicago and Minnesota becomes the ultimate breakdown show.
Also: History is made at March Madness. It’s possibly the most blatant underdog ever to win a game at this tournament.
Night’s Amends: Maxi Kleber (Dallas Mavericks)
Rarely have the vibes in Dallas been as good as after that win in Los Angeles. Thanks to Maxi Kleber’s buzzerbeater, the entire team pounced on the German, who gave the Mavs an immensely important win. “Everyone celebrated, I just tried not to hurt myself,” summed up the Würzburger, who was buried by a cheering bunch.
Fun fact: For Kleber it was the first game winner of his career, not even Dirk Nowitzki has decided a game from the line of three with the siren in his career (somewhat surprising: Nowitzki has only two real game winners with the siren on his credit side in his career) .
Kleber is also to be sneered at after being widely criticized for his miss in San Antonio that nearly cost Dallas the game. “When the ball was in the air, I thought: ‘Damn, it could even go in’ and when it was in, I just saw everyone running towards me. That was a cool experience,” Kleber described these seconds.
Above all, returnee Kyrie Irving threw himself on the Big Man and yelled “reparations” in the direction of Kleber. How right he is and what an important win that was. If the Lakers had lost, they would have leveled with Dallas and tied the series, so the cushion is essentially three games as Dallas now holds the tiebreaker (3-1). Direct playoff participation is also possible; the Warriors, who have the same record as Dallas but are currently still in sixth place, are waiting on Thursday night.
Friend of the Night: Josh Green (Dallas Mavericks)
It seems to be true in the Mavs’ cabin after all. Josh Green revealed after the game that he wore a “Better Days” shirt to endorse Kleber after the Spurs game because of Kleber.
The Australian was so happy about the game winner that he described it as the best moment of his NBA career. Ex-teammate Kristaps Porzingis also tweeted some fiery emojis in response to Kleber’s throw, coach Jason Kidd jumped into the mess after the end of the game (comment Irving: “I think he completely forgot that he was no longer a player”).
Motzki of the night: Mitchell Robinson (New York Knicks)
Somebody doesn’t know what it means to play for Tom Thibodeau. It should be well known that centers in the Thibs system hardly see the ball, and Isaiah Hartenstein also had to experience this this season. Mitchell Robinson should know better, after all, the Big has been with Thibs for almost three years now.
“I’m tired of just doing cardio”, wrote Robinson on Snapchat. “I want to play real basketball and not just waste my time and energy.” In the previous game, Robinson played just 21 minutes in Portland, with the center taking just two shots and touching the ball just 17 times.
In the meantime, the 24-year-old has rowed back a bit. “My mistake, I should have dealt with it differently and didn’t want to provoke a fight. I just have to find my own peace.” Robinson shouldn’t have signed for four years and $60 million in the summer either…
Punishment of the Night: Dillon Brooks (Memphis Grizzlies)
Not a week goes by without Dillon Brooks getting into trouble. The Grizzlies guard was asked to pay by the NBA (once again) after he lost in Miami (119:138) on Thursday night while chasing a loose ball shoved a cameraman into the spectators on the sidelines. The Canadian has to pay $35,000.
Apparently the cameraman is not doing so well. As Heat radio commentator Jason Jackson commented on Twitter, the man was injured and is still under investigation.
By the way: Brooks has already accumulated about $250,000 in penalties this season. With a salary of $11.4 million, that’s probably bearable.
Comeback of the night: Memphis Grizzlies
Of course, Brooks was still allowed to play. Of course, a technical foul couldn’t be missing (No. 17 in the season – leader, plus another $5,000 penalty), but the guard can also interpret the enemy image role differently. In San Antonio, the Canadian forced a three-pointer after Memphis trailed 29 points in the third quarter.
Well, San Antonio also did a lot to lose this game. 9 turnovers, 28 percent from the field, 17 percent from the line of three – that was the Spurs’ yield in the fourth quarter, which they “only” gave up 16:28. However, there is an art to losing a 9-point lead in one minute. What does that actually do to Gregg Popovich? Here’s a screenshot of the play-by-play from the last minute of regulation time. Unbelievable.
Cinderella of the Night: Fairleigh Dickinson Knights
We also have to think a little bit outside the box. Because there is also March Madness and once again the name says it all. Ever heard of Fairleigh Dickinson? No? Don’t be ashamed, here are some facts.
- Fairleigh Dickinson is a small varsity in New Jersey and plays in the Northeast Conference, which is noisy KenPom is the worst D-1 league in the whole country.
- Sacred Heart also plays in this conference. We checked, JD and Turk are not involved. It’s not the hospital from Scrubs.
- The Knights didn’t even win their conference and only got in because Champion Merrimack wasn’t allowed to compete. Background: The varsity only became a D-1 team three years ago and is thus banned from March Madness for four years. What a stupid rule!
Fairleigh Dickinson took second and the Knights became the second 16-seed in history to win. The smallest team in the tournament threw out Purdue with center giant Zach Edey and the The Knights coach had already prophesied it to his team the day before:
“I want Purdue to see that,” the coach said in front of cameras in the dressing room. “The more Purdue games I watch, the more I believe in our victory.” No sooner said than done, the Knights won 63-58 and there was a flurry of disastrous puns and taunts for Purdue on Twitter. Fairleigh enough!
Gamewinner of the Night: Jabari Smith Jr. (Houston Rockets)
We’ve given our colleague Kleber enough credit, which is why we’re giving the Gamewinner award to Jabari Smith (at Kleber, he was also a real buzzerbeater), who’s slowly but surely getting his feet on the ground. It wasn’t his best game in recent weeks, but in the end he was there.
The forward hit the outstretched arms of Naji Marshall from downtown to victory, it was his first NBA winner. “That’s what I’m here for. I’ve done it my whole life,” Smith said confidently.
But it wasn’t quite so natural: “It was like in a video game. Crazy. I didn’t see anyone. The hall was empty for me. Just me and my opponent.” By the way: For Houston it is the first winning streak of at least three games since December 2021!
Drama and glitch show of the night: Bulls vs. Wolves
It wasn’t pretty 58-minute basketball, but it was damn entertaining because it was so unpredictable. It all came together in Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day, the game was as drunk as I’m sure some fans at the United Center were drunk. Let’s sum it up in a nutshell:
- Let’s start with 54 seconds left when Rudy Gobert misses both free throws at +2. It can happen.
- In return, DeRozan comfortably dribbles forward and completely forgets about the clock. There is a rare eight-second violation. “That was just adorable, I’m still mad,” said the All-Star afterwards.
- We also need to talk about the referees. Here’s Gobert’s sixth foul in overtime . Here is the Frenchman’s comment on LaVine and DeRozan: “They hit a lot of heavy shots but got a little help as always.” What does he mean by that?
- Anyway, DeRozan equalized, McDaniels hit a floater on the opposite end to regain the lead. In return, ex-dunk champ LaVine misses a feasible slam and Minnesota really only has to dribble the ball forward and hit free throws. “Much too easy” probably thought Taurean Prince and preferred to move in the direction of the basket, only to play a ball into Patrick Beverley’s arms. Reminder: PatBev is no longer playing for the Wolves this offseason! Didn’t get through to Prince. LaVine got the ball back and put it in to equalize again.
- The second OT was almost boring, but Nikola Vucevic still had one up his sleeve by putting poor Nickeil Alexander-Walker on a poster – the decision. Stacey King’s commentary on it was almost better than the dunk. Great that the broadcast froze the picture and added an autograph at the same time.
- Oh, and the refs again. How this play can result in a jump ball, only the referees probably know. Let’s see what the NBA has to say in the Last Two Minutes report. It suited this wild matchup though.
It was almost forgettable that Anthony Edwards got injured in the first quarter (get well soon!), so much entertainment was on offer.