As soon as Maxi Kleber had sunk the buzzerbeater, his teammates from the Dallas Mavericks rushed towards him and dragged their hero to the ground. "I've never had such a game winner," said the NBA pro after the moment of happiness to the 111:110 at the Los Angeles Lakers, "it feels great. I'll have to look at that again."
Kleber became the man of the day more or less out of necessity. At the score of 108:110 and hardly any remaining playing time, Kyrie Irving had the basketball in his hand, it was up to the superstar to turn the game around on the last attack. But that was not possible this time.
"I saw Kyrie being mated by two players and looked at the shot clock. There were still a good 2.5 seconds on it," Kleber said later: "He couldn't take a throw. When he matched me, I knew I just had to finish quickly." From a good eight meters Kleber sunk his three.
The reactions to the feat were not long in coming. "Maxxiiiiiiiii!!!!," tweeted Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. "What a moment," his team wrote, "Oh my Maxi," according to Bally Sports Southwest.
And glue? He was "just happy" that the ball went in. Irving had told him that the hit was a "reparation". Because Kleber had recently afforded a dropout.
In the Texas duel with the San Antonio Spurs, he threw the ball at 121:119 with 1.8 seconds on the clock in a throw-in over the whole field into the out. The Spurs scored to equalize, Dallas fortunately won in overtime.
"We need every win at the moment. It doesn't matter how it comes about," said Kleber (10 points) to the success over the Lakers around his national teammate Dennis Schröder (15 points). It's mighty close in the play-off race.
The Mavericks, who are still missing star player Luka Doncic, drew level with champion Golden State Warriors in sixth place in the West. The Lakers, who again competed without LeBron James, have to fear for participation in the championship round as tenth.
For his heroic deed, Kleber also received a particularly good grade. The NBA awarded a 0.2 on its "Horry scale", named after buzzerbeater specialist Robert Horry, because of the throwing difficulty with only 4.0 seconds remaining. At the maximum of 5.0 not much was missing.