For much of his career, Vince Carter has been maligned as a star with near-limitless talent but little heart. Now, as a 37-year-old role player for the Dallas Mavericks, the former "Half-Man Half-Amazing" has come through with arguably the most dramatic shot of his career.
With 1.7 seconds on the clock and the Mavericks down 108-106 to the visiting San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series, Carter took an inbounds pass in the left corner from Jose Calderon, pump-faked the defending Manu Ginobili into the air, and drained a buzzer-beating, game-winning 3-pointer. Take a look below:
Carter's shot — his only 3-point make of the game — gave the Mavericks a 109-108 win and a 2-1 advantage over the No. 1-seed Spurs, who held the best record in the NBA this season at 62-20. Before Wednesday's Game 2 win in San Antonio, the Mavericks had lost 10 straight games to their in-state rivals.
Dallas nearly fell victim to a clutch shot from the other side. On the previous possession, Ginobili finished a lay-in that appeared to put the Mavericks in dire straits. That basket would have regained homecourt advantage for the Spurs, who now find themselves needing a win in Monday's Game 4 to avoid three straight elimination games.
This game-winning should should complete Carter's late-career reinvention as a no-nonsense, veteran role player. After gaining early fame as one of the most exciting players in the sport with the Toronto Raptors, Carter became a widely disliked figure with a reputation for not playing through injuries and being more concerned with his scoring numbers and contracts than winning games. That's not the case now — he's just another scoring option in the Mavericks' varied attack.
In fact, Carter was not the only once-criticized player to star for the team on Saturday. Monta Ellis, who joined Dallas as a free agent last summer after several seasons as one of the NBA's least efficient scorers, led all players with 29 points and hit several key shots in crunch time. With better players around him and less pressure to lead the offense by himself, Ellis has thrived as a Maverick. He and his teammates are now two games away from what would qualify as a shocking upset.
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