Maxi Kleber lifts Mavericks to win over Lakers on 3 at buzzer

In one of many lowest moments of this Lakers season, the ball popped throughout the court docket to a spot behind the three-point line above the left elbow and Andrew Nembhard swished a game-winner.

That was Nov. 28, a recreation the Lakers needed to overlook.

They’ll give it some thought now.

“It’s like Indiana all over again,” a disillusioned Darvin Ham mentioned.

With a possibility to achieve valuable floor within the Western Conference playoff race, the Lakers once more noticed defeat handed to them with a last-second three from that very spot — this one with Maxi Kleber delivering the shot Friday evening.

“It sucks to say the least,” Austin Reaves mentioned.

The 111-110 loss Friday would’ve been depressing sufficient by itself, however with the crew having simply misplaced in Houston with Anthony Davis out for precautionary causes due to his foot harm earlier this yr, the Lakers are formally shifting within the mistaken route.

It’s the primary time the Lakers have misplaced consecutive video games in additional than a month.

“If you don’t care about losing games that are really meaningful, what’s the point of playing?” Reaves mentioned.

The Lakers have been clear of their technique during the last month, prioritizing well being forward of the standings. With no restrictions, no back-to-back video games to carry anybody out, Friday, the Lakers simply had a possibility.

Playing the Mavericks, a crew only a recreation forward of them within the standings coming into Friday’s recreation, the Lakers had an opportunity to make an actual transfer. Minnesota, Golden State, New Orleans and Portland all misplaced, giving the crew a valuable likelihood to achieve floor.

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They didn’t take it.

After trailing by as many as 14, the Lakers fought again to steer by 5 within the fourth earlier than the Mavericks mounted a comeback.

Three free throws from Kleber (after he was fouled on a 3 by Davis) made it a one-point recreation within the remaining minute.

Davis then break up two free throws to offer the Mavericks an opportunity to both win or tie.

There can be no extra time, the Lakers forcing the ball out of Kyrie Irving’s fingers, however Kleber stepped in and swished the shot because the horn sounded.

Davis completed with 26 factors and 10 rebounds and 5 different Lakers scored no less than 10 on an evening the place the crew was badly outshot by Irving and the Mavericks from the three-point line.

Dallas made 11 extra threes than the Lakers, who additionally missed 12 free throws in opposition to simply 4 for the Mavericks, who have been with out Luka Doncic.

Irving scored 38 to steer Dallas.

After the loss, which moved the Lakers into the slightest of leads for the ultimate play-in spot forward of Utah, the Lakers mentioned they should play like a crew that wants all of them.

Dallas Mavericks gamers mob Maxi Kleber, heart, after his three-pointer on the remaining buzzer in opposition to the Lakers.

(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

But with restrictions on whether or not Davis can play back-to-backs, that’s clearly more durable to do.

That technique has a price — and it’s one groups across the Western Conference appear prepared to pay.

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By emphasizing potential postseason well being as an alternative of regular-season wins, groups just like the Lakers, the Clippers and the Mavericks are doubtlessly sacrificing important video games in a packed playoff race.

It’s not utterly off the radar. Friday at shootaround, Dennis Schroder informed reporters that he had his eyes on a selected place — exterior of the play-in event.

“I think how we are as a group right now, the chemistry, I think, is in a perfect place,” Schroder mentioned. “Like I said, we just have to try to get the No. 6 seed, that’s our goal and our wish. And then go from there.”

Lakers coach Darvin Ham, right, talks to guard Dennis Schroder during the first half Friday.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham, proper, talks to protect Dennis Schroder in the course of the first half Friday.

(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Still, the No. 6 seed would open the playoffs on the street.

Ham, who has greater than 25 years of NBA expertise as a participant and a coach, has seen a shift towards well being changing into crucial factor for groups as they head into the postseason.

“I don’t think it’s completely changed, but I do think health takes precedence over [seeding],” Ham mentioned earlier than Friday’s recreation. “ … And the playoffs, I don’t want to say it’s overrated, but you’re gonna have to win on the road at some point in order to be world champions, so you just have to be solid, healthy, confident and playing in a good rhythm.

“And no matter where you play, you give yourself a chance. But just having home court, I’ve seen teams multiple times, many, many postseasons have home court advantage and it doesn’t matter, because they gave up those home games.”

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History, although, says groups that need to combat uphill within the playoffs are at an incredible drawback.

The 1995 Houston Rockets are the bottom seeded crew to win a title after starting these playoffs as sixth within the West.

The 1999 New York Knicks made the Finals because the eighth seed in a lockout-shortened season.

The Lakers’ seeding hopes aren’t individually tied as to if Davis is or isn’t on the court docket on back-to-back video games (the Lakers play the Jazz and the Clippers of their remaining back-to-back of the yr).

LeBron James continues to progress, with Schroder saying he has seen James undergo a number of every day exercises in an effort to return.

Getting him again with time nonetheless on the season’s clock can be an enormous enhance.

Pregame, Ham warned in opposition to the crew wanting on the standings or setting particular win/loss targets of their remaining dozen video games.

“Each game is its own entity, and we need to approach it that way,” Ham mentioned. “Making sure we maximize and every day make sure we improve as much as we can while still trying to achieve our goal. But just have to take ’em one at a time.

“We can’t get overwhelmed where we got 12 left and we gotta get to that number [of wins], and you start overlooking things. Our priority has been to stay in the moment and take ’em one at a time.”

Friday, although, it was the Mavericks who took it.