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Max Strus knocks down incredible 59-foot buzzer-beater to give Cleveland Cavaliers win over Dallas Mavericks

<i>Sue Ogrocki/AP via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Dončić produced a stellar performance but it was not enough to get Dallas over the line.
Sue Ogrocki/AP via CNN Newsource
Dončić produced a stellar performance but it was not enough to get Dallas over the line.

By Sam Joseph, CNN

(CNN) — Max Strus drained a wild, game-winning heave from well behind the halfcourt line at the final buzzer to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 121-119 victory against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

The game featured one of the wildest endings to an NBA game this season. Strus caught fire late in the fourth quarter, knocking down four three-pointers on four straight Cavaliers possessions in just over a minute to send Cleveland on a 12-3 run and cut Dallas’ lead from 10 to just one with 2:35 left in the game.

With the two squads battling hard down the stretch, All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell scored two clutch triples inside the final two minutes of the game to give the Cavs a 118-115 lead with 30 seconds left.

The Mavs refused to go away, however, with a Kyrie Irving layup trimming the lead to one before Dallas capitalized on an errant Evan Mobley pass to set up a PJ Washington bucket in the paint to go up 119-118 with 2.8 seconds left.

With Dallas once again holding a one-point lead and the Cavs out of timeouts, the home team needed a miracle.

Strus inbounded the ball, caught the return pass and instinctively hoisted up a prayer from inside his own half, officially measured at 59 feet. Dallas players could only watch in horror as Strus’ shot found the bottom of the net as the buzzer sounded to give Cleveland the unlikeliest of victories.

“Don (Mitchell) was out of the game, so somebody else had to step up,” Strus joked after the game.

“It was fun. I’ve been telling you guys all year, we’ve got a really good group of guys, so we celebrate each other. We enjoy each other’s success and it’s contagious and it’s a lot of fun and it helps us win games when we’re all close like that.”

Strus finished with 21 points on the night and went 5-for-5 from deep in the fourth quarter, per the NBA.

The shot was the longest buzzer-beater in Cavaliers franchise history and the second-longest in the NBA’s three-point era, only behind Devonte’ Graham’s 61-footer for the New Orleans Pelicans in 2021.

“The last five felt pretty good,” he said. “I felt a rhythm and it’s fun when you do that. Every time I shot it, I felt like it was going in, and it was. Same with the last one.”

Mitchell led the way with 31 points, seven rebounds and six assists as the Cavaliers improved to 38-19. The 2016 champions currently occupy the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, 7.5 games behind the Boston Celtics.

MVP candidate Luka Dončić stuffed the stat sheet for the Mavericks, posting 45 points, nine rebounds, 14 assists and three steals as Dallas fell just short.

“Max Strus hurt us in the fourth quarter a lot, but that was just an incredible shot,” said Dončić. “A tough way to lose.”

Washington had a blunter assessment of Strus’ game-winner.

“Obviously, it was a lucky shot,” he said. “You hate to lose that way, but it is what it is.”

Eight-time All-Star Irving, who played for the Cavaliers from 2011 to 2017, added 30 points for the Mavs, who are now 33-25 on the season. Dallas is currently seeded eighth in the highly competitive West, good enough for a spot in the Play-In tournament, as it hunts for a postseason berth.

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