A wild ending leaves the Dallas Mavericks heartbroken in Staples Center for the second time in three days as Chauncey Billups lifts the L.A. Clippers to the win.
You will not likely find a more eventful final minute of basketball than the end of the Clippers 91-89 victory over the Mavericks Wednesday night. Nor will you find a longer lasting minute. To the chagrin of fans across the country with pre-programmed DVRs, the last 60 seconds of regulation took more than 20 minutes to complete. Here's what happened:
- With 57 seconds remaining and the Clippers leading by five, Ian Mahinmi missed two free throws.
- With the ball up five, the Clippers basically needed one more score or one more stop to ice the game. Instead, Chauncey Billups passed the ball directly to Shawn Marion, which led to a Jason Terry transition three with 36 seconds left. Two-point game.
- On the ensuing Clippers possession, Dirk Nowitzki rebounded a Billups miss, but was immediately tied up by DeAndre Jordan. Jump ball, 20 seconds left.
- It was at this point that the officiating crew ground the already slow pace of the game to a near complete halt, as they instituted the first of three replay reviews of the final 20 seconds. This one was to determine if Billups' shot had touched the rim, which it had, so the shot clock was now off.
- A jump ball between DeAndre Jordan and Dirk Nowitzki will always be controlled by the ridiculously long and athletic Jordan, but there's a big difference between the opening tip and a jump ball with 20 seconds left in a two point contest. Both teams wanted the ball badly, and being at a disadvantage on the tip itself, Dallas was going to work to steal it. Billups managed to gain control, and was put under immediate pressure by Kidd. Amid lots of contact, the ball squirted out of bounds, and referee Kevin Cutler signaled Clippers' ball.
- Back to the replay screens. The replays showed a pretty clear foul on Kidd, and just as clearly Billups losing the ball out of bounds. With no leeway to call a foul based on replay, crew chief Bill Kennedy did the only thing he could do and signaled Dallas ball with 15 seconds left.
- Down two, on a simple high pick and roll for Terry, Jordan showed hard and then did something inexplicable - he left the most dangerous shooter on the Mavs all alone behind the three-point line with the ball in his hands. Terry, after recovering from the initial shock of being abandoned in this manner, calmly drained the three. Dallas up one with five seconds left.
- As the Clippers inbounded, Terry knocked the ball out of Mo Williams' hands and out of bounds. The officials signaled Clippers ball, and then, you guessed it, headed back to the replay monitors. They remained there for what must have seemed like an eternity to Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro - if they awarded this one to Dallas, the game would be all but over. This time though, the ball remained with the Clippers (in question was whether Williams touched the ball as he was falling out of bounds himself, but it was too difficult to tell).
- This time, Billups inbounded the ball to Blake Griffin, then cut behind him where he received a pass back and nailed a three. Clippers by two with one second remaining.
- A final lob play by the Mavericks was unsuccessful and the Clippers escaped with the win.
Such a crazy game. So many strange things.
- Terry was 3 for 11 for six points entering the final minute -- he scored six more points in about 30 seconds and almost won the game.
- Just two nights earlier on Monday against the Lakers, Terry had tied the game with nine seconds left only to watch Derek Fisher of the Lakers make a three from the exact same spot on the Staples Center floor and send Dallas to defeat.
- Billups was primed to be the goat -- two turnovers and a miss in the final minute as the Clippers lost a five point lead -- but instead walked away the hero, Mr. Big Shot adding another line to his impressive resume.
- The respective star forwards -- Nowitzki and Griffin -- both struggled shooting. Dirk was just 6 for 18 and seemed sluggish, perhaps owing to the cold that kept him out of the team's shotaround earlier in the day. Griffin was 6 for 15, and uncharacteristically missed numerous chances at the rim, but did grab a season-high 17 rebounds while dishing out a team-high seven assists (including the game-winner).
- While the compressed season was supposed to lead to more "schedule losses" than ever, NBA teams are now 9-3 when playing their third game in three nights as the Clippers were tonight.
The Clippers were without Chris Paul for the third straight game, but did welcome Williams back to the lineup and he carried the offense for long stretches, finishing with a game high 26 points on 11 for 15 shooting. Billups had 21 and Jordan had his best game of the season (other than that little defensive gaffe at the end) with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.
Nowitzki and Delonte West led Dallas with 17 apiece.
The win was the Clippers' seventh straight at home, and they improved to 8-4 overall, while the Mavs dropped to 8-7.