Luka Doncic can’t remember glancing at the rim before letting go of the shot. He was off balance and tripped while separating two Memphis Grizzlies defenders after catching the pass on the left wing 1.8 seconds to go. He let go of the runner from inches behind the 3-point line.
But Doncic saw it peppy, his momentum getting him on the track as the ball splashed through the net and gave the Dallas Mavericks an amazingly unlikely 114-113 win on Wednesday at the FedExForum in Memphis.
“I was really surprised when it started,” said Doncic, who celebrated the winner, whom he described as “kind of happy” by calmly walking to the baseline before raising his hands in triumph and being bullied by his Mavericks teammates. “These are the best feelings ever.”
Such moments have quickly become part of the lore of the 22-year-old superstar.
According to ESPN Stats & Information Research, this marked the fourth tie or starting shot in the last five seconds of fourth quarter or overtime in Doncic’s career, including the playoffs, and topped the Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray the most shots since Doncic in the league in years 2018-19.
Doncic, whose regression 3 won Game 4 of the Mavs’ playoff series in the first round against the LA Clippers last year on Summer, joins Utah Jazz’s Bojan Bogdanovic as the only player in the NBA with multiple victorious Summer Beatern on last two seasons. (The 3-Doncic win against the Boston Celtics on February 23 does not qualify with a tenth of a second on the clock.)
“Sometimes you will make it, but sometimes you will also miss it,” said Doncic, who is 10 out of 25 in the last 30 seconds of a game when it comes to potential draws or starting shots for his career, a 40% success rate that When compared to the career totals of the league’s most productive clutch stars like LeBron James (57 out of 178, 32%), Kevin Durant (43 out of 143, 30%) and Damian, Lillard (37 out of 106, 35%) is cheap.
“You have to take that too. I think that’s the most important part. If my team trusts me right now, I’ll keep working on it.”
It was a bit of a miracle that Doncic even had a chance of claiming a win for Dallas. After Doncic missed a free throw 3.2 seconds from time, Grizzlies shooter Grayson Allen grabbed the rebound and was fouled a second later, with the Mavs two points behind.
Everyone who came into play as a free-throw shooter to 90.6% could have sealed the victory with both shots. But he missed both of them and set the stage for Doncic to perform a miracle.
“In situations like this, you win a game like this once in a blue moon,” said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, whose team improved to 30-24, a game behind the Portland Trail Blazers for sixth place in the Western Conference. “It just doesn’t happen very often. Luka took one of the typical special shots that you will see for a long time.
“This is one of those joyful nights that we escaped. We had Houdini. He got us out of here alive.”
However, Carlisle said he “expected” Doncic to take this type of shot, as did the other Mavs that were available during post-game media availability. Her confidence doesn’t just come from Doncic’s track record during the games. You’ve seen him shoot countless high difficulty shots during practice and shootouts, many just while he was playing around.
For example, after warming up a few hours before losing to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, Doncic juggled football style until he was a few feet from the tunnel on the corner of the American Airlines Center. He grabbed the ball in his hands and shot it from about 40 feet away – and behind the backboard – a trick shot that went viral after it was caught by ESPN’s cameras.
So a tripping 3-pointer off one foot wasn’t a shock, even in a game against the Grizzlies in eighth place.
“Look out. I think so,” said Mavs center Dwight Powell. “I firmly believe that there will at least be a chance, but I will use my money for it.”
Carlisle said he learned not to bet against Doncic under any circumstances and that he lost “thousands of dollars” to Doncic for betting on half-court shots.
“Once in Mexico City, [his] My sophomore year I paid it in pesos because I was so mad about it, “said Carlisle with a laugh.” I don’t bet with him anymore because I’ve seen him do everything. I saw him shouting beatings from halfway through the court. I saw him kick the ball from 40 feet. Every time we go to training and he is sitting on a table and stretching out behind the basket, he says, “Hey Coach, if I take a shot, is the training over?” I always look at him like this, “Don’t you forget it” because he’s going to take the shot. He’ll take the shot somehow.
“He’s just a very special and unique guy when it comes to things like that. He sees angles and possibilities and has a belief system that very few of us can fathom. Pretty amazing stuff.”