Max Strauss' 59-foot buzzer beater Peter Luka Doncic lifts Cavaliers past Mavericks

CLEVELAND — Evan Mobley's career-best pass, Carys LeVert's worst tackle and the second-best buzzer beater to win a game in Max Strauss on the planet in nearly 28 years.

Such was Tuesday night's riot in Cleveland.

Struss unleashed and drained a 59-footer just before time expired, lifting his Cavaliers to a thrilling 121-119 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. It's a shot that goes several steps behind the half-court line, and is the second-longest game-winning shot at the buzzer in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

“I did,” Struss said when asked if he knew his shot would be good. “I don't even know what happened next.”

Well, Max, you sprinted towards your own basket in joy and shock. Video replay shows that LeVert chased you down and tried to tackle you, but you knocked him down enough to tackle you. The Cavs avoided a veritable mob of dogs, but most of Strus' teammates were hovering over him, yelling who knows what – not believing what they were seeing.

“I don't know what I said on the mic (after the game),” said Donovan Mitchell, who was not in the game for the Strus' game-winner. “If Poly Sports has it, make sure it's edited.”

The last 30 seconds of this game were drunk. Mitchell hit a 3 for a 118-115 advantage. Who is Kyrie Irving, the former guard? Biggest shot in franchise history, buried a short jumper with 23.8 seconds left — which of course stopped the shot clock, giving the Cavs the ball back. Dallas didn't need to foul immediately and chose to apply more pressure, nearly tying up Darius Garland for a jump ball on a play in which Cleveland insisted Garland was fouled. The Cavs used their final timeout to save the possession, but Mobley threw the ball coming out of it.

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The Mavericks, predictably, looked for Luka Doncic (game-high 45 points, 14 assists, nine rebounds), but Maxi Kleber's pass was almost blocked by Mobley. Doncic connected on it and instead of shooting it himself, passed it to a wide open PJ Washington for a layup with 2.6 seconds left.

“I wasn't expecting to make a full-court shot because I was, like, blown,” Mitchell said. “But at the end of the day, that's why you play until the final seconds.”

Yes, about them, the last two seconds and change. As time expired, Struss tossed it to Mobley in the frontcourt, who promptly returned it to Struss (and later admitted it was the best, or at least smart, pass). As his momentum carried him toward the basket, Struss uncorked one over Doncic's arm and watched it stay put until it went through the hoop.

Ball game.

“Wake up,” Struss said, when asked what went through Mobley's mind when he passed the ball. “I had the space, I don't know. I shot it.
Struss reminded reporters he had done this before.

“In my Division II (college), I made a three-quarter-court shot to win the game,” he said. Before transferring to DePaul, Strauss attended a small school in Lewis, Illinois. “I think it's No. 1 on ESPN.”

Fifty-nine-foot prayers aside, Strus wrestled the Cavs from the jaws of a heavy loss. With Cleveland trailing by 10 after leading by as many as 15 in the first half, Strus left with less than four minutes to go. He responded with four straight 3s to cut the deficit to one, and scored 15 of his 21 points in the final frame on 3s. Every one of Strus' seven field goals came from behind the arc, and one was behind the line and the centerline. He was 5-for-5 in the final 3:42 of the game.

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“What he did tonight was absolutely ridiculous, but that's Max,” said a gruff JP Bickerstaff, who needs some arenas and herbal tea, stat, for the Cavs' next game Wednesday night in Chicago. “Max never quits. We were down and he had the same mindset. He is not going to quit.”

Mitchell led the Cavs with 31 points, and Jared Allen contributed 19 points and nine boards. Cleveland (38-19) remains one game behind the Milwaukee Bucks for second place in the Eastern Conference.

After winning seven in a row, the Mavericks (33-25) have now dropped two in a row and return to play in Toronto on Wednesday.

“I can honestly say that's the first time I've ever lost a half-court shot,” Irving said. “Someone is shooting it three-quarters court and it's not hitting anything. So it's an unfortunate situation. We executed down the stretch and gave ourselves a chance to win the ball game.

In a game decided by a final shot, all games count. To that end, Irving committed an unusual turnover that cost the Mavs. Struss started his 3-point barrage in the fourth quarter (he drained four in 66 seconds), and Irving reportedly made a play when he caught a pass from Tim Hardaway Jr. after Struss' first 3. Irving wanted to throw the ball inbounds, but an official said he was already in play.

“We put ourselves in position to beat one of the best teams in the league, not just in the Eastern Conference, but we came up short,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said.

Required reading

(Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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