For this list, we included attempts to beat the shot clock, for two reasons: 1. There’s a buzzer sound when the shot clock expires, and 2. These are just arbitrary rankings so we can make up the rules as we go! There’s a certain amount of freedom in bending conventional wisdom and mixing in a bit of improvisation when you do anything in life, and that includes both making rankings lists and free-styling toward the end of a quarter or possession. Once that clock gets below two seconds, as you’ll see in the video below, anything can happen. There are no rules and there are no limits. Zaza Pachulia can hit a fall-away 20-footer from “a Larry Bird angle,” to quote play-by-play voice Mark Followill, and Deron Williams can drain one practically from the opposing team’s bench. That’s what makes buzzer-beaters so exciting.
Enjoy! And, as always, if you think we missed one, let us know in the comments below which of your favorite buzzer-beaters were left out.
Top 10 Mavs Buzzer-Beaters of 2015-16
Take a look back at the best Mavs buzzer-beaters of the season!
10. D-Will to Dirk for 3
You won’t find many more meaningful wins in November than the one the Mavericks earned against the Clippers last November. It was the first time DeAndre Jordan’s team came to town since the dramatic twists and turns of last summer’s free agency period, the Mavs had lost three of their previous four games, and at the time a few of Dallas’ key players were still battling back from significant injuries. But the Mavs, sporting the skyline jerseys for the first time, came through with a huge victory against Los Angeles on national television, signaling to the NBA universe that this team would be just fine. Dirk Nowitzki’s buzzer-beating trey put Dallas up by 14 points in the third quarter in what turned out to be a 118-108 win. It might only have been November, but it was a big, big win for Dallas.
9. D-Will with the rainbow
Deron Williams’ first appearance in this top-10 list isn’t quite as unbelievable as his final one — more on that later — but this shot was still pretty nice: a Dirk-esque rainbow jumper from the wing on a pass from an off-balance J.J. Barea. The Mavs beat the Grizzlies that night, Dec. 18, 97-88. This Williams 3-pointer put Dallas ahead for the first time all night, 38-35, and the club wouldn’t trail again for the rest of the game.
8. Felton from wayyyy back
Raymond Felton hit so many big shots for the Mavericks this season that you might have forgotten about this one. On Jan. 6, the night after a double-overtime win against Sacramento — more on that later — Dallas was severely shorthanded in New Orleans as most of the starters were resting. That meant more playing time for Felton, who delivered 22 points and six assists in one of his best games of the year. Three of those points came on this play, with 42 seconds left in the game and Dallas clinging to a six-point lead. The impossible shot gave the Mavs a nine-point lead, which would ultimately be the final difference.
7. Matthews from the corner
Just one week later, on Jan. 12, the Mavs and Cavaliers would duke it out in a highly entertaining and tightly contested game at American Airlines Center. With just over two minutes left and the shot clock winding down, Chandler Parsons found a spotted-up Wesley Matthews in the corner for three, which put Dallas ahead 91-89. Unfortunately Cleveland would tie it up and ultimately win in overtime, 110-107, but Matthews’ big shot was a highlight in what was a thrilling contest.
6. Felton over LeBron
Felton’s only made field goal of that night came at a great time, as he beat the first-half buzzer even while taking contact from LeBron James, putting the Mavericks ahead 52-47. Again, how many big shots did Felton hit this season??
5. Zaza from the impossible angle
It might only have been preseason, but Zaza Pachulia’s turnaround fall-away miracle shot was still one of his most impressive highlights of his first season as a Maverick. At the time, it was no guarantee that Pachulia would be the starting center on opening night, as Samuel Dalembert was still on the roster at that point. But Pachulia’s play in the preseason earned him the starting rights, and the Georgian big man never looked back, putting together a fine campaign.
4. Felton with a crossover and step-back
What do you know, another big-time shot from Felton! Mark Followill even called this one, as we watched him whip and then proceeded to watch him Ray-Ray and drain a 21-footer as time expired in the Mavs’ 91-79 win against Brooklyn on Jan. 29. The story of that two-game homestand, featuring wins over the Nets and Suns, had more to do with defense, however, as Dallas kept both opponents below 80 points. Defense and tempo control would save the Mavs’ season down the stretch, so there was a bit of foreshadowing here.
3. Dirk from the wing
Watching Nowitzki 3s never gets old. This one, though, meant a bit more than your usual trey, as the Mavs needed every point they could muster to win a tight one against the Knicks on March 30, taking the contest 91-89. This was the second of six straight victories Dallas would piece together down the stretch to earn its 15th playoff berth in 16 seasons. Barea grabbed the headlines, scoring 26 points off the bench, while Nowitzki shot just 5 of 23 from the field. But, hey: Every point counts, and Dirk’s long-range bomb to beat the halftime buzzer meant a lot at the end of the day.
2. Felton does it just like they drew it up
Here’s the way the Mavs designed this play:
1. Beat your man off the dribble into the middle of the lane.
2. Spin and look to pass.
3. Pass it off the opposing center’s stomach.
4. Catch your own pass.
5. Fade away and shoot it over the backboard. Two points, easy.
1. D-Will wins the game, chaos ensues
This bucket instantly became an iconic moment, as not only did the shot win the game, and not only did it end a disappointing two-game losing streak, but that moment showed us how close together the players on this team were this season. The dogpile on the sideline gave us an image that sums up this club well. These guys all liked each other, they all rooted for one another, and they celebrated with each other as brothers, not just teammates. That was as tight-knit a locker room as you could find in the league this season, and there’s no measuring what that chemistry did for the Mavericks this season.
Also, what a shot.