By Ben Golliver
The Mavericks beat the Clippers 109-102 in overtime on Tuesday night, but only after an improbable Blake Griffin Hail Mary basket was waved off by the referees in the final second of regulation.
The closing sequence in the fourth quarter was action-packed, with Chris Paul and O.J. Mayo exchanging baskets in the final five seconds. That was all only a prelude to Griffin's near-heroics. With just 0.6 seconds remaining, Matt Barnes lofted a Hail Mary pass to Griffin, who was jockeying with Dirk Nowitzki in the paint on the other end. Much like the famous Christian Laettner play (see below), Griffin came down with the ball. Unlike that play, however, he didn't have time to pivot and shoot, instead catching the pass and tossing up a prayer in one motion as he fell to the court. Somehow, the circus try banked in, giving the Clippers what would have been a 99-97 lead.
The hoop wouldn't stand, though, as the referees ruled that Griffin pushed off on Nowitzki during the sequence, illegally creating the space he needed to receive the catch. Replays showed Griffin's arms extend as Nowitzki stumbled backward, but Griffin couldn't be blamed if he felt the whistle was a bit quick given the game-deciding circumstances.
The Mavericks went on to win the overtime period 12-5 to seal the home victory. Nowitzki finished with 33 points (on 12-for-21 shooting) and nine rebounds. Paul paced the Clippers with 33 points (on 12-for-15 shooting), six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Dallas (35-36) moved into a tie with the Jazz and closed within one game of the Lakers for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. The Clippers, the West's No. 4 seed, dropped to 48-23.
Here's Laettner's miracle for Duke against Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA tournament.
Top video via YouTube user sky2847 | Bottom video via YouTube user ncaaondemand