Mavericks forward Vince Carter hit a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to lift Dallas to a 109-108 home victory over San Antonio in Game 3 on Saturday.
With less than two seconds remaining and San Antonio leading 108-106, Dallas took the ball out from the left sideline. After watching Monta Ellis run off a curl towards the top of the key, Jose Calderon elected to pass to Carter, who broke towards the left corner with Manu Ginobili in hot pursuit. Carter caught the pass and turned towards the baseline in one motion, using a brief pump fake to get Ginobili in the air before hoisting up a fallaway three-pointer.
This was a magician's act all around: Carter managed to fake and then release the ball before the clock ran out, while also keeping his feet behind the line but not out of bounds. Baseline photos showed that his right heel perfectly hovered above the sideline. The shot swished through after the buzzer sounded, delivering the one-point victory and sending the American Airlines Center crowd into a massive celebration. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban joined the party on the court, pumping his arms to lead the cheers.
Carter's shot countered a clutch play on the other end, as Ginobili had banked in a runner with 1.7 seconds left to put San Antonio up by two.
Many observers quickly noted that Carter's three-pointer was eerily similar to a three that he attempted during the 2001 playoffs as a member of the Raptors. On that play, which came in a Game 7 loss to the Sixers, Carter pump faked his defender into the air and launched from the left corner off of an inbounds pass, only to miss long. The miss kept Toronto from advancing to the Eastern Conference finals.
"Sometimes you'll miss a big shot -- 2001 -- and you'll hold onto it for a while until you get the opportunity again," Carter said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I'm just glad it worked out this time, years later."
Max Frishberg released a YouTube tribute video comparing the two shots in the hours after Dallas's Game 3 victory on Saturday.
Carter finished with 11 points (on 3-for-8 shooting), three rebounds and one assist. Monta Ellis led the Mavericks with a game-high 29 points (on 12-for-22 shooting), three assists and two rebounds in the win.
Tim Duncan scored a team-high 22 points (on 8-for-14 shooting), five rebounds and two assists. Tony Parker added 19 points (on 9-for-18 shooting), six assists and two rebounds in a losing effort.
Dallas (No. 8) now holds a 2-1 series lead over San Antonio (No. 1). Game 4 is set Monday in Dallas.
Bottom video via YouTube user Max Frishberg