Max Strus sinks half-court buzzer-beater as Cavs down Mavs

Agence France-Press February 28,2024 - 12:44 PM

Max Strus Cavs

Max Strus of the Cleveland Cavaliers sinks this half-court shot over Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks to give the Cavs the victory. | Jason Miller / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Los Angeles, United States—Max Strus drained an astonishing 58-foot buzzer-beater as the Cleveland Cavaliers conjured a stunning late fightback to sink the Dallas Mavericks 121-119 on Tuesday.

In a remarkable finale in Cleveland, Strus unleashed a mammoth heave from inside his own half to snatch victory from Dallas, who had grabbed a 119-118 lead with just over two seconds remaining in the game.

Strus’s miraculous effort was the final act of a thrilling fourth quarter rally by Cleveland, who trailed by 10 with under four minutes left after a superb 45-point performance from Mavs ace Luka Doncic.

Strus was the catalyst for the Cavs turnaround, reeling off four straight three-pointers to allow Cleveland to get within one at 113-112 with 2min 35sec remaining.

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Back-to-back threes from Donovan Mitchell put Cleveland 118-115 up but Dallas hit back to regain a one-point lead after a Kyrie Irving jump shot and a P.J. Washington layup.

That set the stage for Strus to unfurl his game-winning three-quarter-court effort to spark pandemonium amongst the home crowd in Cleveland.

“That was awesome,” Strus said afterwards. “Great win, we needed it. We’ve been struggling so it’s good to get one like that.

“We fought, and fought, and fought… we want to win every game and we want to keep winning.”

Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff praised Strus’s role in sparking the late rally when it looked as if the game had slipped away.

“The way that he plays the game with a determination, a never-give-in mentality and attitude — that inspires his team-mates every single day,” Bickerstaff said.

Bickerstaff on Max Strus: ‘He’s just relentless’ 

“He’s just relentless and that elevates his team-mates. Everybody leads in their own way on our team; he leads and people follow.”

Mitchell led the Cleveland scoring with 31 points, with Strus finishing with 21. Jarrett Allen added 19 as the Cavaliers secured a win which leaves them second in the Eastern Conference with a 38-19 record.

Doncic meanwhile topped Dallas’s scorers with 45 points, adding 14 assists, nine rebounds and three steals. Irving finished with 30 points as Dallas dropped to 33-25, eighth in the Western Conference.

In other games on Tuesday, the league-leading Boston Celtics extended their winning streak to nine games after a 117-99 defeat of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Jaylen Brown (31 points), Jayson Tatum (29) and Kristaps Porzingis (23) led the way for Boston, who improved to 46-12 and lead second-placed Cleveland by 7.5 games.

Tyrese Maxey finished with 32 points for Philadelphia, who have lost eight of 12 games in NBA MVP Joel Embiid’s injury absence.

Philadelphia got to within two points early in the fourth quarter, but Boston responded with a 15-0 run to pull away and effectively ice the game.

“It’s all about how you respond,” Tatum said of the Celtics rally. “We’re learning from our mistakes from last year. We’ve done a really good job of going over those situations in practice.”

In Minnesota, Anthony Edwards’ 34-point total helped the Timberwolves to 114-105 win against the struggling San Antonio Spurs.

Minnesota lead the Western Conference standings 41-17.

In Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 24 points while Damian Lillard added 23 as the Bucks romped to a 123-85 rout of the Charlotte Hornets.

Milwaukee coach Doc Rivers was pleased with his team’s improved display on defense — an area that has been a problem for the team all season.

“I thought we were very physical, our hands were very active — our deflections over the last four or five games have skyrocketed,” said Rivers, who was also encouraged by the link play of Antetokounmpo and Lillard.

“They’re starting to connect — they’re starting to see each other,” Rivers said. “Those are good signs for us moving forward.”

In other games Tuesday, Chris Paul made a winning return from injury for Golden State as the Warriors blew past the Washington Wizards 123-112 in the US capital.

Klay Thompson added another impressive display from the bench with 25 points to lead the Warriors scoring.

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