DALLAS -- Under Rick Carlisle, the Mavericks have been incredibly good at winning close games. In fact, nobody's been better over the last couple of seasons.
That's why three buzzer-beater losses in the first 15 games came as a total stunner. So, how about four in 21 games? Had San Antonio's Danny Green released the basketball a millisecond sooner on his wet baseline jumper at the buzzer, it would have happened. On the floor, the referees ruled it a good bucket giving the Spurs, down 18 in the third quarter, an apparent and miraculous, 93-91 victory.
"I thought the game was over," said Dirk Nowitzki after his first game back. "Gave up another last-second shot so we've got to lead the league in the category."
Vince Carter thought it was over, too. He started walking off and then caught the replay on the big screens overhead.
Fortunately for Dallas, in the NBA, they go to replay in such cases and the final frozen frame indeed revealed the ball barely hanging on Green's fingertips when the red light bordering the backboard flashed. The shot was nullified, the points wiped away, overtime ensued and Dallas escaped with the 101-100 victory in the wildest of some pretty wild games so far.
Of course, Green missed a last-ditch 3-pointer to win at the overtime buzzer at the end of a bumbling final possession.
"It's a wacky year and there's a lot of things going on with crazy scores and leads and deficits disappearing," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "So you've got to be ready for anything and we're fortunate, but it's a good win."
The win gave Dallas it's third in closing out a four-game homestand and moved the Mavs into sole possession of first place in the Southwest Division. Since the three consecutive losses to open the season, including Kevin Duran't buzzer-beating 3-pointer at Oklahoma City on Dec. 30, Dallas is 13-5.
With the team sleeping in before a third game already against the Suns and first in Phoenix, here's several items to peruse:
1. Brendan Haywood won't relinquish block lead: Surely there's some unwritten rule that a 7-footer can't have fewer blocks than a 6-2 guard. But, at the rate that Rodrigue Beaubois has been stuffing shots lately, Haywood was in real jeopardy of losing his team lead in the category. Beaubois picked up a career-high four blocks Friday night and climbed to within three of Haywood, despite playing more than 150 fewer minutes. On Sunday, Haywood had enough of it and slapped away a season-high five blocks to give him 23 in 21 games. It was a good thing because Beaubois came up with three more to give him 18 on the season and 14 in the last six games.
2. Terry goes off, but not the deep end: Terry lit up the Spurs for a season-high 34 points on 14-of-23 shooting Sunday night. It was his first 30-point outing of the season and first since March 1 of last season when he scored 30 at Philadelphia (regular season of course, Terry had 32 on 9-of-10 shooting from the arc in Game 4 against the Lakers). Terry scored his 34 Sunday with the help of just one 3-point basket, and he attempted only three shots from beyond the arc. He's attempted three or fewer shots from downtown just three other times this season and not since Jan. 1o.
3. Delonte West trending a bit south: The combo guard was all the rage the first few weeks of the season, but he's fallen on some difficult times of late. After sitting out Friday's game with a tight right hamstring, he returned Sunday, but was not in the starting lineup as has been the case since the second game of the season. Vince Carter reclaimed the starting shooting guard spot with Rodrigue Beaubois starting at point guard in place of the injured Jason Kidd. West went just 1-of-6 from the field for two points. He had no assists and three rebounds in 15:46. In his last three games, West has made a single field goal in each, going 3-of-15 with six assists and four turnovers.