Horry Scale: James Johnson Tops Knicks

by Zettler Clay IV


Look at what J.R. Smith started. Three straight days of spectacular end-of-regulation buzzer-beaters.

How fitting is it that the next Horry Scale participant — James Johnson — would top Smith’s Knicks with a terminator of his own?

The Sacramento Kings led by as many as 27 points, but Manhattan’s own (playing without Carmelo Anthony) mounted a furious comeback. On the penultimate possession, Jason Kidd saw Tyson Chandler cutting to the basket. As he’s done a million times before, Kidd lobs the alley. But he didn’t see DeMarcus Cousins waiting for the pass.

Cousins stole it and an Isaiah Thomas miss, tip rebound, pass and Johnson 3-pointer later sealed a wild contest and the highest ranking of the Horry Scale in two years.

For those that are new around these parts, 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 Kings-Pistons game?), and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?), and gives it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.

How does Johnson’s shot Friday night stack up? Let’s take a look.


To say the Kings got lucky is an understatement. They blew a huge lead. The Knicks grabbed lead late in the game and looked like victory. Then Kidd made an errant pass, which led to Sacramento’s final possession. Thomas dribbled left and launched a shot that hit nothing but backboard. Johnson outfought Kidd and Chandler to tip the ball back out. Thomas corrals the ball from near midcourt, makes move to middle of the paint.

One pass to the corner to John Salmons, who fired the rock to the right wing. Steve Novak almost intercepted the pass, but the ball landed safely in the hands of Johnson. And despite his 0-for-11 mark from 3-point territory this season (and 28 percent career mark from there), Johnson iced the shot.

Or you can look at it this way: The Kings were out of control on the final possession and were bailed out by a lucky 3. But that’s nibbling … at the end of the day, a made shot is a made shot.

It also brought back memories of the man who helped inspire this very Horry scale:

Ironically, Horry’s shot was against the Kings.

Game Situation

Knicks led Kings by two — 105-103 — at time of Johnson’s game-winner. A miss ends the game, giving the Kings a bad taste after blowing such a lead. It would have also given the Knicks their second win of the road trip.


The play was significant on two levels. Primarily, this loss would have sunk morale to lower levels in Sacramento. The Kings were staring down the barrel of more condescending “there’s Kings basketball, blowing 20-plus leads at home” talk. Facing a tenuous future, star player troubles and a general lack of court identity, the Kings needed Johnson’s shot to fall in the worst way.

Secondly, it gives them a quality win. When you’ve only won nine games, as the Kings have, a win over the staunch Knicks is nothing to take lightly. At the very least, Sacramento has a breath of fresh air in the midst of a dirty fishbowl season.


The euphoria of Sleep Train Arena and the Kings’ sideline contrasted perfectly with Knicks coach Mike Woodson’s grimace and his team’s look of misfortune. As Chris Webber, Vlade Divac and Co. showed us before, very few basketball arenas know how to crank up the noise like Sacramento. The Kings looked more relieved than utopic (not a word?). In this case, those two are probably one in the same.


5 Horrys. Only one shot has generated 5 Horrys: Tyreke Evans’ crosscourt heave to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies two seasons ago.

(Is it safe to say that the Kings franchise is a vital part of the Horry Scale lifeblood?)

Well, make this two. Johnson’s actual shot wasn’t nearly as impressive (how do you top a fullcourt shot to nab a win at the buzzer?), but within the context of the season, it stands out as much. He gave Sacramento an extra shot with his hustle before delivering the nail. Johnson is far from a marksman from distance, perhaps the most unlikely King on the court to make that play. While the dwindling clock gave him no choice but to launch, his ability to come through prevented the Kings’ worst loss of the season and secured a win at the same time. With that, Sacramento made its biggest contribution to the NBA storyline this season, vanquishing the Knicks in most dramatic fashion.

What sayeth you?


  1. Danks says:

    Nice buzzer beater but no way a 5. Four Harry’s max.

    • Pétrus says:

      hArrys? to me its hOrrys, just kidding, man i think less than 5 horrys would be a mistake, how many guys can shoot a 3 nothing but net at the buzzer to win the game trailing by 2? the kings were in a bad situation, and take down the knicks this way, its really amazing, im not a kings fan, but you have to give them a credit, thats my opinion

    • celtics says:

      Any average shooter can drain a wide open shot.2.5 on the harry scale.

    • celtics says:

      king’s Evans shot was amazing.O.J Mayo hit a mid range jumper to bring the grizzlies up by 1 and tyreke evans got the ball dribbled to half court and drained the half court shot at the buzzer.

  2. johnnyappleseed says:

    That was definitely a 5 star Horry shot blew a lead and hit the three when your down by 2 with no time on the clock

  3. John says:

    Honestly, if KD’s corner three a year ago didn’t get a five, there is no way that this should get one. It’s a 4.5 tops, probably more like a 4. It wasn’t an incredibly tough shot, and nobody was in his face. It shouldn’t get extra props just because Johnson isn’t a good three-point shooter.

    • Andy says:

      You take a three with no time left to win an NBA game in front of thousands of people then tell me it’s easy.

      • John says:

        By no means was it easy–it was absolutely a spectacular shot. All I’m saying is that it doesn’t merit this many stars.

  4. 90PercentFTM says:

    Any time a player makes a tough buzzer beater shot for the game, and the the team is down, is impressive and deserves a 4 Horry minimum. There have been impressive, ice-cold buzzer beaters this season, but the games were all tied and the game would have simply gone into over time.

  5. Sedare says:

    Yeah, I say 4.5 Horry. This was not beyond a makeable distance like Harris in 08, Roy in 08, or Evans mentioned before were graced with epic shot title. And his celebration…. I was like… Thats all he did? He was just as shocked as anyone else that DID NOT shoot it. I had hoped for more.

    If your going to have a 5 Horry max, you always have to make room to grace the incredible with a full 5. Evans deserved the 5.

    I wont diminish the shot, It will probably be the best GWBB of the year.

    But it does not QUITE rival Evans.

  6. Dom says:

    Robert Horry = Swag Champ

  7. Dom says:

    Can everyone take a moment to look at the Tyreke Evans three because I noticed something funny. While Tyreke’s shot was sailing toward the basket you see the one guy on the Kings bench start celebrating well before the shot goes in; ran off of the bench and all. Lol. Can you imagine how sick he would have been had that shot not gone in? Lol. Just a thought 🙂

  8. fccpw says:

    Again, it’s James Johnson that tip the rebound, not Cousins.

    Cousins is still floating at the back court until Thomas start dribbling with six seconds left. Knicks commentator got it all wrong

    • Eli Odell J. says:

      i think you need to watch it again buddy, looks like cousins game back was worth the while, got the steal and off rebound to win the game

  9. hibachi MVP says:

    i thought that was worth 3 stars

  10. Lucdog says:

    i feel like 5 horrys should be saved for like game 7 do or die shots.

  11. bg32 says:

    this only proves that whoever is doing the horry scale this year has no clue. I may be wrong but just about every game winner this year has be given at least a 3. In previous years it was far more difficult to get above 3. I believe this is a 4. the kings are down and there is no time left on the clock. Yet there was no one contesting the shot and it is an early in the regular season game between a cellar dweller and a playoff lock. I hate to say it, but the horry scale is now broken.

  12. nabz says:

    @DOM I was thinking the same thing…. That guy knew that shot was going in well before it did…lol

  13. Pao says:

    not better than durants 3 over dallas last year in their opening game

  14. Enzo says:

    5 HORRY’S ARE RESERVED FOR PLAYOFFS ONLY (apart from tyreke’s sick gwbb)
    This is a straight on 3. Yes they were down, but the kings always lose, it has no importance if they win one more game, they will still miss the playoffs. this is definitely 3.5 – 4 horrys. its knicks @ Kings for goodness sake

  15. Ivan Galic says:

    NBA.com,please check the gamewinner of Dusan Kecman of Partizan Belgrade,0.6 seconds left and halfcourt buzzer-beater !!

  16. m3ck3y says:

    This is a losing team with great fans. They deserve something more than the Maloofs.

  17. m3ck3y says:

    This is a Losing Team with Great Fans. They deserve something more than the Maloofs. Not a Kings fan but I would love this team to stay in Sac.

  18. Ricardo says:

    2002 was a bad life for Kings , i remember that day KINGSALLDAY

  19. ponglong says:

    I think it deserved a 4 as the game wasn’t as important as you made it sound. High importance for the Kings, low importance for the NBA as a whole (except for Knicks haters). Save the 5 Horrys for Playoffs/Finals or amazing shots like Tyreke’s.

  20. beads says:

    I would give 5 horrys for that guy who celebrated the basket even the ball was still mid-air! Psychic!

  21. Stephen says:

    I was at this game. The mood was electric. We, as fans, all felt “here it goes again” but when that shot dropped, there was an incredibly amount of rejoicing in the stands. You had to be there; an absolutely amazing moment. If this scale could have six horrys, that shot should have received it

  22. Victor Manoel says:

    5 Horrys hands down. When I read “3 pt. shot Kings: JAMES JOHNSON” I thought: “What??? Is James Johnson lauching threes now?”

  23. G.V. says:

    Not to be an jerk here but how is Horrys shot so unbelievable? The one by Fisher (catch and shoot with no time) was way more impressive. So was this one by James Jones.

  24. Bird33 says:

    Tyreke was definitely a 5. This is a 4 at best, perhaps a 3. No way it is an equal to Tyreke’s shot….just watch the two videos and it will be obvious

  25. Real says:

    this reminds me of horrys against the kings 02 playoffs, being at the wrong place at the wrong time, not to dscredit horrys shot but he was a PF and he shoulda been in the paint, JJ cant shoot 3s really but he happened to be at the 3 point line and the ball just came to him in a wild sequence like when the ball got tapped out to horry over a rebound, props to JJ and horry still

  26. Jake says:

    This is a 5 out of 5…really? To each his own but…No, it’s not a 5 out of 5. This is not some 2008 Blazers-Rockets, Yao Ming making a shot with a second left, gets fouled than Brandon Roy hitting the 3 with 0.8 seconds left to win it. This is not nearly as dramatic as a shot like that. This deserves maybe a 3, tops.

  27. really people? says:

    So as soon as i saw the shot on tv i knew it was gonna atleast be a 4. i was suprised that it was a 5 but still deserved it. now when i read the comments i saw people saying this only deserved a 3… really people a 3? this was better than JR Smith’s shot for sure and that got a 4. im just saying if u think this only deserved a 3…

    • Enzo says:

      how is this more difficult than JR’s falling twisting shot. This is a straight on wide open 3 pointer, 3 horrys MAX

  28. jim says:

    3 horrys. mo petes was a 4 fishers .4 was a 5

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