December 2, 2023

DALLAS — As soon as the ball left Luka Doncic‘s hand, Dorian Finney-Smith knew the Brooklyn Nets were in big trouble.

Finney-Smith feared the worst because he had seen his former Dallas Mavericks teammate hit so many ridiculous shots, whether Doncic was messing around after practice or trying to score with a game on the line. This instance was the latter, and Doncic declared the go-ahead 3 that he banked off the glass with 26.1 seconds remaining Friday night to be the most difficult he’s ever made in a game.

With the score tied at 120, Doncic was forced to give the ball up twice on the possession before getting it back from Maxi Kleber on the right wing with three seconds remaining on the shot clock. Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale doubled Doncic, who had his back to the basket with Finney-Smith draped all over him. Doncic pivoted toward the sideline and, with a three-quarters arm angle like a relief pitcher, launched a high-arching hook that banked in for the game-winner.

“I saw there was like two or three seconds left — gotta put it up,” said Doncic, who scored 14 of his 49 points in the fourth quarter, including four 3s in the final 2:59. “Better touch the rim so we can have a chance to get the rebound. I don’t know how I made it.”

The shot was so ridiculous that several Mavericks cracked up and shook their heads throughout the ensuing timeout called by the Nets.

“I’ve seen it a million times,” said Finney-Smith, who played the first 6 ½ seasons of his career in Dallas before being traded to Brooklyn in the Kyrie Irving deal in February. “He plays around and he honestly works on those shots. You can’t really fault him. I feel like we should have not let him get the ball back. That probably would have been the best option. S—, he couldn’t even see the rim and he made that mug.”

Finney-Smith, who joked that he would refuse to discuss basketball when he met Doncic for their prearranged postgame dinner, claimed that Doncic absolutely did not call bank on the miraculous game-winner.

“Hell nah, he ain’t call no glass,” Finney-Smith said, shaking his head. “He better not say he called glass, either.”

“That was the most insane thing I’ve ever seen, and we needed it.”

Mavs governor Mark Cuban

With a smirk, Doncic retorted: “I said it in Slovenian, so he wouldn’t understand.”

Mavs coach Jason Kidd admitted that he was shouting for a timeout in the moments before Doncic got off the game-winner. Kidd thought that Doncic was “stuck” and wanted to draw up an out-of-bounds play, but fortunately for the Mavs, the officials didn’t hear his timeout request.

“That’s a Luka special,” Kidd said. “He likes the ball late. He loves those situations, and he finds a way. The thing about Luka, he practices a lot of these crazy shots. Sometimes they get caught on camera, sometimes just the human eye catches it. Tonight was one of those shots, but he put us in position to get there.”

Doncic, who also had 10 rebounds and seven assists with zero turnovers, was 16 of 25 from the floor. That included going 9 of 14 from 3-point range, setting a career high for 3s made with his stunning game-winner.

“That was the most insane thing I’ve ever seen,” Mavs governor Mark Cuban said, “and we needed it.”

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