Miami Heat throw it back to the 1990s

By Jeff Case

Last night, the Miami Heat hosted the San Antonio Spurs in a TNT showdown on national TV. As such, the Heat decided this would be a “throwback” game and sported uniforms the team wore during the franchise’s 1990s era. But they didn’t stop there with the historical stuff.

They had a throwback “I Love This Game”-themed commercial, playing off the popular advertising campaign the NBA used in the 1990s …


VIDEO: Miami Heat “I Love This Game” commercial

… there was a throwback player introduction before the game …


VIDEO: Heat’s throwback player introductions

… and perhaps the best part, they had the players do a 1990s-style infomercial featuring Amar’e StoudemireDwyane Wade, Tyler JohnsonGoran Dragic and Chris Andersen dancing to hits from Bobby Brown (“Every Little Step”), Kris Kross (“Jump”), Tom Jones (“It’s Not Usual”/The Carlton) Los Del Rio (“The Macarena”) and M.C. Hammer (“Can’t Touch This”).


VIDEO: Miami Heat infomercial

Pacers to appear on ‘The Bachelor’

The Indiana Pacers will appear on a future episode of 'The Bachelor'.

The Indiana Pacers will appear on a future episode of ‘The Bachelor’.

By Jeff Case

One of the most popular reality TV shows over the last 20 seasons has been ABC’s “The Bachelor”. This season’s eligible guy is Ben Higgins, a software salesman who lives in Denver, but hails from Indiana. He attended Indiana University. where he hung out with the stars on the team back then, future NBA first-round draft picks Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller. 

(According to the Indianapolis Star, Higgins and Zeller became friends and are still pals today).

As part of the show, Higgins is traveling back to his home state and the Pacers will be a part of an upcoming episode.

Pacers.com has more on why Higgins is back in his native state and how the Pacers got into the episode, which will feature George Hill, Paul George and coach Frank Vogel (and they’ve got a photo gallery from the taping, too):

Pacers fans will see some familiar faces on the next episode of “The Bachelor.” Paul George, George Hill, and Coach Frank Vogel are special guests on next Monday’s episode on ABC.

Current Bachelor Ben Higgins is a Warsaw, Ind. native and filming for this particular episode took place in his hometown. Ben’s date for the episode was Lauren B.

This isn’t the first time a member of the Pacers Sports & Entertainment family has appeared on a show from “The Bachelor” franchise. Indiana Fever All-Star forward Tamika Catchings appeared on an episode of “The Bachelorette in 2014.

Horry Scale: Hayward saves best for last


VIDEO: Gordon Hayward hits the fadeaway to cap off thrilling win

ALL BALL NERVE CENTERGordon Hayward delivered a reminder of the old philosophy that it doesn’t matter what you do early in a game as long as you deliver late.

The Jazz forward struggled to find a rhythm and the range on his shots all night long Tuesday at American Airlines Center in Dallas.  They came up long and short, bounced off the rim and clanked off the backboard.

Then teammate Rodney Hood dropped in the clutch 3-pointer at the end of regulation and Hayward had a fresh chance to start all over again in overtime.

And he jumped on it.

After shooting just 5-for-17 from the field in the first four quarters, Hayward couldn’t miss in OT.  He took three jumpers and made them all, including the pretty step-back, 20-footer from the baseline that beat the horn to give the Jazz their 121-119 win in overtime.

The shot gave the Jazz their seventh consecutive win and eighth in the last nine games, enabling Utah to jump ahead of Houston into the No. 7 slot in the Western Conference playoff race.

With big men Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors healthy and back in the lineup, it’s looking like the Jazz are ready to end their four-year playoff drought.

Remember, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety night in November?) and celebration.   Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, named for the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.

One thing to get straight: The Horry Scale does not measure only a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a Game-Winning Buzzer-Beater. So we’re talking about not only the shot, but also the play that creates the shot, the situation and the drama, the celebrations … basically, everything surrounding and including the shot.  In short, it’s about the total package.

DIFFICULTY — Once Hayward rubbed off would-be defender Raymond Felton by coming through the lane to take Joe Ingles’ inbounds pass, he kept on circling to the left baseline, then rose up to get off a gorgeous step-back jumper over the outstretched arm of too-late 6-11 Zaza Pachulia that buried into the bottom of the net as the horn sounded.

GAME SITUATION —There’s always less pressure when the score is tied.  But considering how much difficulty Hayward had finding the basket for most of the night, it was impressive the way he took over in overtime and stroked the game-winning shot with such confidence right in from of his teammates on the visitors’ bench.

CELEBRATION — Hayward didn’t have far to go to get his pats on the back since his fallaway motion practically took him into the arms of his happy teammates.  First a hug from Trey Lyles, then Chris Johnson and Hood and as the Jazz made their way toward the locker room.

GRADE — Pachulia definitely gave Hayward just enough of an opening to get the shot off, but it wasn’t a wide open, size-it-up.  For a guy who struggled all night with his shot, it was a redemptive thing of beauty.  We’ve giving it two Horrys.

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Klay Thompson, Warriors celebrate Chinese New Year

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Monday saw the start of the Chinese New Year, and to kick the new year off right, the Golden State Warriors’ guard Klay Thompson went into San Francisco’s Chinatown to unveil the Warriors’ Chinese New Years jerseys and try his hand at making some fortune cookies. How did he do? Check the video below…


VIDEO: Klay New Year

Joe Johnson crosses over Jusuf Nurkic

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Hang around the NBA long enough and you’ll hear the phrase: “You reach, I teach.” And on this play in last night’s Brooklyn/Denver game, we basically saw it come to life. Denver big man Jusuf Nurkic got switched onto Brooklyn forward Joe Johnson on this possession, and just when Nurkic reaches in and tries for the steal, Johnson crosses him over and sends him to the floor. And check the second angle on the video, where you see the Nets bench go crazy…


VIDEO: Johnson/Nurkic

And for his part, after the game Nurkic responded in good humor…

Horry Scale: Johnson’s Dagger Wins It For Nets


VIDEO: Joe Johnson banks it in from beyond the arc as the buzzer sounds

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Admittedly, this was not the sort of scenario with which Robert Horry typically was associated. A fellow who became synonymous with clutch postseason shots would seem to have nothing in common with a pair of NBA cellar dwellers. The Denver Nuggets, in 11th place in the Western Conference, were in Brooklyn to take on the Nets, the East’s 14th place club. Combined, the team were 36 games under .500 when the night’s action began.

They remained 36 games underwater when the night was over (funny how the math works), but there was at least the drama of Joe Johnson, Brooklyn’s veteran sharpshooter, drilling a 3-pointer as time ran out to boost his club past Denver, 105-104.

That outcome might not have quickened Horry’s pulse the way it does when he polishes his seven NBA championship rings, but it did link him in another chapter of All-Ball’s Horry Scale. For those unfamiliar with the tradition, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation, importance and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, whom our own Fran Blinebury refers to as “the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.”

We’ve already made clear this was a pretty humdrum matchup between teams stuck in standings mud, though the Nuggets remain a cut above the dismal Nets. So we’ll focus on the remaining categories:

DIFFICULTY: The clock was not Joe Johnson’s friend, and neither was his location on the floor. Only 1.3 seconds remained when teammate Merkel Brown inbounded the ball. Johnson had broke to the top from down in the paint, his defender, Denver’s Danilo Gallinari, trailing a step or so behind. Johnson took the pass, had time for a quick rhythm dribble and one step to his left, then launched from 27 feet. The ball banged in off the glass, a nice touch but hardly flukey. Johnson is a professional gunner, after all, and has hit similar shots hundreds of times, if not always as buzzer-beaters.

GAME SITUATION:  There had been some drama here late in an otherwise lackluster game. Brook Lopez‘s work under the rim had tied it 102-102 with more than a minute left, and then Denver missed two long jumpers while Brooklyn had only a turnover (nice steal by Nuggets guard Gary Harris) to show for most of the final minute. A 50-50 ball had forced a jump between Kenneth Faried and Lopez that the Nuggets won. Then, with 4.7 seconds left, Denver inbounded to Faried, who bolted toward the basket and launched a running jumper from about six feet. That had the Nuggets up 104-102 with first 0.9 seconds left, adjusted via replay to 1.3.

CELEBRATION: Johnson looked happy, a nice in-the-moment reaction to what generally has been a bummer season for the seven-time All-Star. He is shooting just 40 percent, is scoring at his lowest rate (12.4 points per 36 minutes) since his 2001-02 rookie season and has bandied about the “buyout” word as a way to exit the Nets gracefully while preserving what’s left on his $24.9 million salary for this season. There was an announced crowd of 13,043 on hand at Barclays Center to witness Johnson’s bank shot. And yes, that was Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov caught by the cameras, in a luxury suite high above the court, high-fiving his guests.

GRADE:  The shot was sweet in a season short on highlights for Brooklyn, but the blah backdrop – two teams headed nowhere, unrepresented in the All-Star Game next Sunday in Toronto – was too much to lift this one beyond two Horrys.

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Russell Westbrook does a terrible Kevin Durant impression

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Earlier today we checked in with Kevin Durant, who had the opportunity yesterday to photograph the Super Bowl. Today at Thunder practice, Durant was asked about the experience, and while he explained how much he enjoyed it, Russell Westbrook strolled up behind him and couldn’t resist the chance to mess with KD…

Kevin Durant photographs the Super Bowl

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Being a photographer during a sports event is way harder than it looks. I know, because I tried it a few years ago, and you can see the results of my effort by clicking here. My first attempt at photographing an NBA game was during a Blazers/Nets game. For Kevin Durant? His first attempt was during Super Bowl 50, last night in Santa Clara, California. That’s right, with the Thunder still in the Bay Area after facing the Warriors on Saturday night, KD got himself a media credential and sat on the field to shoot the big game for The Player’s Tribune. Nice work!

Horry Scale: Vucevic’s fallaway lifts Magic over Hawks



VIDEO: Nikola Vucevic hits 18-footer at the buzzer

All Ball Nerve Center — Well, it’s been a weird season for the Orlando Magic. It actually began, coincidently, when they extended on offer sheet to free agent Paul Millsap, who decided to stay with the Hawks instead. OK, fine: Orlando decided to continue with the youth movement, with mixed results. And so the Magic had lost 15 of 17 games leading into their Super Bowl matinee with Millsap and the Hawks, who of course are headed in the opposite direction. In the last few days, with trade rumors fluttering about, Magic center  Nikola Vucevic implored the Magic to stay the course of their current rebuild, saying: “There’s no reason to think we need to change anything. We have to find a way within each other to get back to what we were doing early in the year.” With that, Vucevic chose the right time to make a statement, with a buzzer-beater against the Hawks which, of course, automatically made him a candidate for the Horry Scale, which measures the quality of buzzer beaters.

DIFFICULTY: This was pretty dicey. Vooch was set up nicely with 2.2 seconds left on an inbounds pass by Elfrid Payton, who was dazzling for the Magic in the fourth quarter, generating much of their offense almost by himself with passes or shots. Al Horford was tight on Vooch, who dribbled once and let it fly with a turnaround (jumping off the wrong leg) from about 20 feet. Can’t blame Horford’s D.

GAME SITUATION: The Magic blew a 14-point lead and went scoreless for almost four minutes, one reason why they’re on the outside looking in with regard to the playoff picture. Defense has been a big issue with this team; they surrendered 107 or more points in eight straight games. They’re a young team and did what young teams do, let leads escape them. But in the final seconds with the score tied, Evan Fournier, one of the symbols of the Magic’s decent start to the season, grabbed a loose ball which triggered a timeout, which in turn triggered Vooch’s big shot.

CELEBRATION: Well, Vucevic had the good sense to hit the game-winner from in front of the Magic bench. One of the first guys to hug him was Magic assistant coach Mario Elie. You might remember his Kiss Of Death shot for the Rockets against the Suns in 1995. Oh yeah, a classic.

GRADE: The shot did plenty to lift the Magic out of their doldrums, if only temporary. But as epic shots go, meh. The Horry Scale is unforgiving, just like the player it’s named after. Let’s give it 2 Horrys.

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Warriors’ Curry Doles Out Courtside Feets

By Nick Margiasso IV

You can’t do better than courtside seats. That is unless you do courtside seats at a Warriors game.

Ticket holders in the front row of Saturday’s Golden State-Oklahoma City game not only get the closeup experience, they get a pretty good set up for their feet — and collectible case — too.

More from ESPN’s Darren Rovell

Enough for a whole extra row, too? Stephen Curry, you the real MVP.

Follow Darren Rovell on Twitter