DALLAS — Vince Carter knew right away the exact date of the last time he had a buzzer-beating try in a playoff game – 13 years ago.
It’s seared in the memory of the 16-year veteran because he missed that one. He was on target Saturday.
Carter hit a double-pump 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Dallas Mavericks a 109-108 victory in Game 3 and a first-round series lead over the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs.
With 1.7 seconds left, Carter took an inbound pass from Jose Calderon in the left corner. After a quick pump fake got Manu Ginobili in the air – moments after the Argentine guard had given the Spurs the lead – Carter released the ball just in time.
He strutted stone-faced toward Dirk Nowitzki, who was waving his arms wildly as he jumped on Carter. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban joined the celebration on the court before the automatic review confirmed the obvious: The shot was good.
And it’s one Carter said he practiced.
“May 20th, Game 7,” said Carter, referring to an 88-87 loss to Philadelphia in the 2001 Eastern Conference finals when he was he was the dunking sensation known as “Vinsanity” with Toronto. Carter had graduated from North Carolina earlier that day before flying on a private plane to Philadelphia.
“I don’t mind taking the game-winning shot,” said Carter, who otherwise had a rough day before finishing with 11 points. “I don’t mind missing them, and dealing with it. So I think having that mentality helps me.”
Monta Ellis kept the eighth-seeded Mavericks close in the fourth quarter and finished with 29 points.
Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 22 points.
HEAT 98, BOBCATS 85
In Charlotte, N.C., LeBron James had 30 points and 10 rebounds, and Miami defeated the Bobcats to take a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference first round series.
Dwyane Wade added 17 points for the Heat, who can close out the best-of-seven series Monday night.
James, who was an efficient 10 of 18 from the field, pushed his record to 18-0 against the Bobcats since joining the Heat in 2010. Miami has won 19 in a row overall against Charlotte.
Al Jefferson had 20 points for the Bobcats.
After trailing most of the first half, the Heat took a 42-40 lead on a 3-pointer by Mario Chalmers. Miami closed the half on a 16-4 run.
Norris Cole hit a 5-foot bank shot and then buried a 3-pointer from the left wing to put the Heat up by five and Miami was off to the races.
WIZARDS: Forward Nene was suspended by the NBA for Game 4 of the team’s first-round series against the Chicago Bulls for head-butting and grabbing Jimmy Butler around the neck with both hands and attempting to throw him down.
Nene received two technical fouls and was ejected from the game for the incident, which occurred with 8:28 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ 100-97 loss to the Bulls on Friday night.
Nene will serve his suspension when the Wizards play host to Chicago in Game 4 today.