Cavaliers’ Max Strus drains 59-foot miracle at buzzer to stun Heat

Max Strus caught the pass and with barely time to think, let alone shoot, one thing crossed his mind.

“Stop it,” he said.

Down it went.

Strus drilled one 59 footer as time passedhis fifth three-pointer in the final four minutes to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a wild 121-119 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

After the Mavericks took the lead on PJ Washington’s dunk with 2.9 seconds left, the Cavs, out of timeouts, inbounded the ball to Evan Mobley, who gave the ball back to Strus – whose barrage of four threes in the span of 67 seconds away. brought Cleveland back from a 10-point deficit.

Strus then took a dribble before firing his shot from well beyond the center of the court. As it zoomed through the net, Strus was tackled to the ground by his celebrating teammates as the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse crowd erupted.

Strus said he knew it was good from the moment it left his hand.

“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.”

Donovan Mitchell scored 31 points, Strus added 21 and Jarrett Allen 19 for the Cavs, who improved to 12-3 since Jan. 26 in a win many of them will remember for a long time.

“Man, to see it continue, especially what he did for us in the fourth, it had to be him,” Mitchell said. “You dream about a shot like that. So he would get that after what he did for us all through the fourth quarter, man.

Strus said the piece was not designed, but simply unfolded.

“Don (Mitchell) wasn’t in the game, so someone else had to do it,” he joked.

Strus wasn’t too impressed with his heave. He hit an even longer game-winning shot in college.

“Yes, at my Division II school I made a three-quarter shot to win the game,” he said.

Luka Dončić had 45 points and 14 assists per day before turning 25 for the Mavericks. Kyrie Irving added 30 for Dallas, which lost for only the second time in 10 games.

“Incredible shot. That was just an incredible shot,” Dončić said. “It was my fault, I should have continued (on Strus). I thought we played a good game, but of course it was tough.”

Dončić added nine rebounds and finished one shy of his 11th triple-double.

With Dončić making a three-pointer, Dallas reeled off 10 straight points to take a 108–98 lead with 4:38 left.

The Mavericks were still up by double digits when Strus got hot, making four three-pointers in just over a minute to pull the Cavs within 113-112.

“That two-minute period was intense for us,” Irving said. “This is the first time I’ve lost on a half-court shot. You don’t flush it out of your system, you feel it. This one should sting a little.”

The Cavs are happy with what they got from Strus, who signed with them in the offseason after a nice stint with Miami. He gives Cleveland strength, outside shooting and a new leader both on and off the field.

“What he did tonight was absolutely ridiculous to come back in that fourth quarter and show us what we were like,” coach JB Bickerstaff said. ‘But that’s who Max is. And it’s sometimes as simple as chasing a loose ball or making an extra rotation. Max never gives up and we were in trouble and he had the same mentality.

“He wasn’t going to stop and he just kept making play after play after play on both ends.”

Dončić’s appearance in Cleveland always brings out dozens of fans from the city’s Slovenian community. After his early pre-match warm-up, Dončić entered the stands to sign autographs and pose for photos.

After a slow start on offense, the Cavaliers made 7 of 9 three-pointers to start the second quarter as they opened a 56-41 lead.

But after a timeout in Dallas, Dončić took over. The All-Star made three threes in a span of 1:26, dropped two free throws and then hit another step-back 3 to score 14 points in the final 2:57, pulling the Mavs within 60-56 at halftime came.

This was Irving’s first visit since being traded to Dallas from Brooklyn, and he received a warm ovation during player introductions and again when the Cavs played a video tribute to him during a first-quarter timeout.

Irving waved to the crowd and formed a heart shape with his hands to show his gratitude.

The mercurial guard has a complicated relationship with Cleveland fans. Some remain loyal and will never forget his contributions to the Cavs’ 2016 title run, while others feel bitterness toward Irving after he demanded to be traded.

He’s been with Dallas for almost a year, and Mavericks coach Jason Kidd raved about how Irving has adjusted after a bumpy exit from the Nets.

“He’s at peace with it,” Kidd said. “He enjoys Dallas, the city. He enjoys his teammates and plays at a high level.”