By Ben Golliver
The Mavericks executed a buzzer-beater that was equal parts zany, lucky, and awesome to force overtime against the Thunder on Thursday night.
With Oklahoma City leading 98-95 and 2.3 seconds remaining, Shawn Marion inbounded the ball from the sideline. Vince Carter peeled off a series of screens and Marion fed him the ball, as if to set up a near corner three. Instead, Carter deflected the inbounds pass blindly back to Marion over his own head. It was a risky decision by Carter, but Marion was able to squeeze through a little traffic to corral the ball. In doing so, he stepped inside the three-point line, an obvious no-no given the time/score situation.
With just one second remaining, Marion found his safety valve, kicking out a pass to Darren Collison, who was straddling the three-point stripe on the far side. Collison had somehow managed to free himself from all Thunder defenders, even though they were aggressively defending the three-point line as you would expect given the circumstances. Collison received the pass and launched his shot in less than one second, a speedy try that was aided by his quick trigger release and the fact that he caught the ball while in the air and shot it before coming down. The best part: he did it all while leaping off of one leg! If that doesn't sound insane enough, his shot swished in perfectly with the buzzer already sounding and the lights on the backboard already illuminated. Replays showed the ball left his hand with just 0.1 seconds remaining.
Incredible stuff. Just like Rick Carlisle drew it up. Well, maybe.
Making this all the more unlikely, Collison entered Thursday's game shooting a career-low 25.6 percent from deep. He hadn't hit a three-pointer since Dec. 18, going zero for his last three games. Even using both of his legs, he's been terrible from behind the arc. And then this.
Collison finished with a team-high 32 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals on 13-for-22 shooting in 40 minutes. He made all four of his three-point attempts, setting a new season-high. Mavericks All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki had high praise for his teammate, DallasNews.com reported.
“He was phenomenal for us tonight and fun to watch. I hate to waste an effort like that from him obviously,” said Nowitzki, who had nine points in his second game back after offseason knee surgery.
“We definitely need him to keep playing like that. Obviously, he’s not going to score 30 every night but we need him to attack and make some stuff happen.”
Unfortunately for the Mavericks, Collison's heroics were all for naught, as the Thunder pulled out the home win in overtime 111-105. Kevin Durant finished with a game-high 40 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three blocks and one steal in 49 minutes for the Thunder.
The Thunder improved to 22-6; the Mavericks dropped to 12-17.
Video via YouTube user firstandskol | Hat tip: @CJZero