The Dallas Mavericks get an opportunity to replay the final 3.8 seconds of Wednesday’s disastrous conclusion, as well as the previous 47 minutes and 56.2 seconds, when they get a rematch with the Sacramento Kings on Friday afternoon in the California capital.
In the opener of a three-day, two-game, same-opponent sequence Wednesday, the Mavericks appeared headed for a narrow win when they had possession of the ball and a two-point lead with the clock winding down and the Kings having no intention of doing anything about it.
But interim coach Alvin Gentry’s patience was rewarded when the Mavericks’ Kristaps Porzinigis air-balled a 12-foot jumper for a 24-second violation with 4.3 seconds left. Gentry’s ensuing scripted play began with 3.8 seconds left and called for De’Aaron Fox to drive for a game-tying hoop but instead produced an unexpected reward when Fox found Chimezie Metu in the right corner for a buzzer-beating, walk-off 3-pointer and 95-94 victory.
Metu’s shot came from right in front of the Dallas bench, where several Mavericks were standing and shouting in his ear as he quickly caught the pass and released the game-winner.
“That was probably the best part,” he said of the distraction. “It was a great moment … for sure one of the best moments I’ve had. For us to grind that one out, it felt good.”
The crowd-pleasing triumph was the Kings’ second in two nights after they had tipped off a back-to-back with a 117-111 home win over the Oklahoma City Thunder 24 hours earlier to snap a three-game skid.
A third straight win could be a greater possibility after the Mavericks ruled out guards Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr. on Thursday. Both players are in COVID-19 protocol.
Doncic, who has also been bothered of late by a sore left ankle, has missed the last nine games, including four straight due to health-and-safety restrictions. Meanwhile, Hardaway has been in protocol the last five games.
With the NBA having shortened the COVID-19 quarantine period in the past week, both are now eligible to return.
While they’ve been out, the club added veteran Isaiah Thomas after he was not offered a second 10-day deal by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Thomas shot 3-for-8 and totaled six points in the loss on Wednesday. But on Thursday, Dallas said Thomas went into the COVID-19 protocol, raising the number of Mavericks to eight.
Upon entering the game on Wednesday, Thomas was rewarded with a rousing ovation from his former fans in Sacramento.
“This fan base here, they love him,” Jalen Brunson said of the Sacramento fans. “He’s one of those players, wherever he goes, he’s going to get a lot of love.
“These players coming in on these hardship deals is a tough thing to do, especially what he did today, to fly in and go straight to work.”
Brunson was the game’s top scorer with 25, while Porzingis chipped in with 24.
Rookie Davion Mitchell, one of three Kings cleared to play in the game after COVID-19 absences, contributed 14 points to the win.
The Mavericks have lost two of three on a five-game trip that concludes Sunday at Oklahoma City.
–Field Level Media