Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

Starting 5, Feb. 28: Max Strus hits 59-foot game-winner

Max Strus hit five 3s in the final four minutes of Cavs-Mavs, including the second-longest regular season buzzer-beater since 1997-98.

Starting 5Trivia Time: After 25 seasons as arena roommates, tonight marks the final regular season game between the Clippers and Lakers with both teams sharing the same arena.

Before tonight’s matchup – the 98th in the series since the Staples Center/ Arena opened in 1999 – which team holds the 50-47 edge in head-to-head games?

See Section 5 for the answer.


  1. 💥 Strus hits 59-ft game-winner
  2. 🍀 Celtics win 9th straight
  3. 🌪️ Roundup: Bench Klay delivers
  4. ⚜️ Zion eager for stretch run
  5. 📸 End of an era in Los Angeles

An ESPN doubleheader highlights a six-game Wednesday, beginning with the Pacers hosting the Pelicans (7:30 ET, more on Zion Williamson in Section 4) … followed by the final regular season matchup between the Lakers and Clippers as co-tenants of Arena (10 ET, ESPN)


Max Strus hits an amazing buzzer-beater, his 5th trey in the final 4 minutes, to help Cleveland climb to 12-3 since Jan. 26.

The Cavs entered Tuesday having lost three of their last five games.

Trailing by 10 with under four minutes to play, Strus caught fire at the exact right time.

  • Left wing 3 with 3:42 left
  • Right corner 3 with 3:36 left (following a Mavs’ inbounds violation)
  • Top of the key 3 with 2:57 left
  • Transition 3 with 2:35 left

Strus hit four 3s in the span of 67 seconds to trim the Mavs lead to one.

The teams traded shots down the stretch, with Donovan Mitchell hitting a pair of 3s to keep Cleveland up late. However, a Cavs turnover gave Dallas the ball with 8.3 seconds left with a chance for the win. Luka Doncic drove the lane and dropped a dime to PJ Washington for the go-ahead layup with 2.6 seconds left.

Cavs ball. Down 1. No timeouts. And the basket 94 feet away.

Strus inbounded the ball to Evan Mobley, who got it right back to Strus, who took one dribble and launched a 59-footer from well behind the mid-court line.

It didn’t bank in. It didn’t rattle in. It swished. Just like the previous four 3s he made to get the Cavs back into the game.

  • Strus: “The last five felt pretty good. I felt a rhythm and every time I shot it I felt like it was going in, and it was. Same with the last one.”

Watch the final 5:01 in full

Mitchell watched the shot from the Cavs bench, having been subbed out on the defensive possession prior to the game-winner.

  • Mitchell: “Man, just to see it go through, especially what he did for us in the fourth, it had to be him, too. You dream of a shot like that.”
  • Strus: “Don (Mitchell) wasn’t in the game so somebody else had to do it.”

Strus finished with 21 points on seven made 3s, Mitchell added 31 and seven 3s of his own as the Cavs defeated the Mavs 121-119, despite a combined 75 points from Luka Doncic (45) and Kyrie Irving (30). Recap

The numbers: Strus’ four 3s in 67 seconds is the fourth shortest amount of time for a player to make at least four 3s, trailing Jamal Murray (27 seconds, Nov. 13, 2016), Tracy McGrady (34 seconds, Dec. 9, 2004) and Terry Rozier (64.1 seconds, Dec. 18, 2019)

The distance: Strus’ 58.6-foot game-winning shot is the second-longest game-winner tracked in the regular season since the 1997-98 season.


Nightly Notable: Jayson Tatum | Feb. 27

Jayson Tatum sparks Boston's 9th straight win as he finishes with 29 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists against the 76ers.

Celtics Trio Leads The Way: Jaylen Brown (31), Jayson Tatum (29) and Kristaps Porzingis (23) each scored 20+ points for the eighth time this season to lead the Celtics to a 117-99 win over the Sixers for their ninth straight win. Recap

  • Only Trio With More: L.A.’s LeBron James, Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell have 12 games with each scoring 20+ points
  • First Win Of Its Kind: The Celtics won despite shooting just 5-of-22 from 3-point range. It is their first win when making 10 or fewer 3s in a game this season
  • Matched NBA’s Season-Best Win Streak: Boston became the fifth team to win nine consecutive games this season, joining the Cavs, Knicks, Clippers and Magic
  • First To 10: Boston can become the first team this season to win 10 straight when they host Dallas on Friday (7:30 ET, ESPN)

Ant Leads Wolves Past Spurs: Anthony Edwards (34 pts, 5 reb, 5 ast, 4 3s) led the Wolves to a 114-105 win over the Spurs in their final matchup this season. Victor Wembanyama (17 pts, 13 reb, 5 ast, 4 blk, 2 stl) stuffed the stat sheet (and showed off his ridiculous skill) while facing fellow Frenchman Rudy Gobert (who delivered a poster). Recap

Thunder Win 6th Straight, Keep Pace: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (31) posted his league-leading 43rd 30+ point game of the season (and seventh in a row) as the Thunder defeated the Rockets 112-95 for their sixth straight win to remain tied with Minnesota atop the West standings. Jalen Wiliams (24 pts) and Chet Holmgren (18 pts, 13 reb, 3 blk) combined to add 42 points. Recap


‘Bench Klay’ delivers again: Klay Thompson hit six 3s and scored a team-high 25 points in 27 minutes off the bench to lead the Warriors to a 123-112 win over Washington. Golden State is now 4-1 since Klay has come off the bench. Chris Paul had nine points, six assists and four steals in his first game back after missing seven weeks. Recap

  • ‘Starter Klay’ (49 games): 17 ppg in 30.6 mpg, 41.5% FG, 36.8% 3P
  • ‘Bench Klay’ (5 games): 19.8 ppg in 27.1 mpg, 47.9% FG, 44.9% 3P

Heat stay hot: Trailing by as many as 15 and down by 10 at the half, the Heat outscored the Blazers 60-40 in the second half to secure their fifth straight win, 106-96, and move into fifth in the East. Jimmy Butler led the way with 22 points, nine assists and four steals. Recap

Magic get win No. 33: Playing their second game without Paolo Banchero (illness), the Magic got 21 points from Franz Wagner and 51 from their bench to defeat the Nets 108-81. The win moves the Magic (33-26) within one win of last season’s total. Recap

Hawks demolish Jazz: Behind a combined 42 points from Jalen Johnson (22 pts, 13 reb, 6 ast) and De’Andre Hunter (20 pts), the Hawks pulled off a wire-to-wire 124-97 win over Utah to spoil John Collins’ return to Atlanta. Recap

Pistons stop slide: Cade Cunningham (26 pts, 5 reb, 5 ast) led six Pistons in double-digit points as Detroit snapped a six-game losing streak with a 105-95 win over the Bulls. DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic had 25 each, including DeRozan’s must-see 360 reverse layup. Recap

Pelicans drop shorthanded Knicks: The trio of Trey Murphy III (26 pts, 6 3s), Brandon Ingram (24) and Zion Williamson (21) combined for 71 points to lead the Pelicans past the Knicks, 115-92. New York had Jalen Brunson sidelined, along with Julius Randle and OG Anunoby. Recap

Bucks blast past Hornets: The Bucks got a combined 47 points from Giannis Antetokounmpo (24) and Damian Lillard (23), led by as many as 49 and finished with a 123-85 win. Recap


After dropping 36 points, six rebounds and eight assists in a 133-126 Pelicans win over the Wizards on Feb. 14, Zion Williamson had this to say when asked where he was physically.

  • “The real Zion? I know we good to go when I’m like, not 100 [percent], but 110, 115…When I’m doing things that aren’t normal, constantly, that’s when I know I’m back to where I need to be. So I’d say I’m about like 93 [percent] right now.”

The last time Zion played an NBA game in February was in 2021, his sophomore season in the NBA. He appeared in 61 of 72 games that season and showcased his “doing things that aren’t normal” game that made him the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

  • He missed the entire 2021-22 season after suffering a Jones fracture in his right foot
  • After an extensive rehab – chronicled in the debut episode of Pass The Rock – Zion was cleared to play his first game in 517 days
  • He opened the 2022-23 season looking like he hadn’t missed a step, averaging 26 points on 60.8% shooting with seven boards and nearly five assists over 29 games before a hamstring injury on Jan. 2, 2023 cut short his promising season
  • The Pelicans (23-14) were third in the West, just one game back of first, when Zion was lost for the season. They finished the season 42-40 and were eliminated in the Play-In Tournament

Pass the Rock, Ep. 1: Zion's Journey

An NBA ID Member Exclusive: Zion Williamson navigates injuries and exterior pressures throughout his path from top prospect to NBA star.

After what Zion described as “a rough three years” stuck in a cycle of injury and recovery, he has been able to play in 47 of New Orleans’ 58 games so far this season, and is eager for every game of the stretch run.

  • “I’m excited. I haven’t been available for this part of the season since my second year. So, just to be available – God bless for that. I’m just excited. I love hooping … I love competitive hooping.”

Zion is averaging 22.4 points on 58% shooting, with 5.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists for the season and has been even better through nine games in February with 24.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists – leading the team in dimes the past four games.

If this is just 93% Zion, the West better watch out once he gets to 100.


There’s a time for roommates and there’s a time to have your own space.

  • After spending 25 seasons as co-tenants of the Staples Center/ Arena with the Lakers, the Clippers are getting their own place.
  • Beginning next season, the brand new Intuit Dome in Inglewood will be the home of the LA Clippers.
  • Before the roommates go their separate ways, there’s time for (at least) one final bash at the old crib.

Tonight marks the final Battle of L.A. (10 ET, ESPN) with both teams calling Arena home — at least for the regular season. With both teams in the playoff mix, a potential postseason series could push the move out date further down the line.

Before tonight’s matchup, we looked back at some of the memorable moments and images from Lakers-Clippers matchups in this arena over the past quarter century.

From Shaq’s career-high 61 points on his birthday, to Blake Griffin dunking on everyone in sight. Enjoy a trip down L.A. memory lane.

Trivia Answer: Clippers lead the all-time series, 50-47