by Jeff Case
We were getting a little worried around here, what with it being almost a full month since the Kings’ James Johnson delivered the last entry to the 2012-13 Horry Scale. Thank goodness (unless, of course, you’re a Portland fan) for Washington’s Jordan Crawford and his heroics in the Rose Garden on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
If you haven’t been paying attention to the Wizards — what with their 8-30 record entering Monday night — they haven’t had the best of seasons so far. Point guard phenom John Wall missed 32 of those games recovering from knee surgery, big man Nene has been in and out of the lineup with ailments and, with all that in mind, Washington not surprisingly started the season 0-12. (The team Washington beat for its first win? Portland.)
One of the few bright spots for the Wizards has been Crawford, who is the team’s leading scorer. It hasn’t been all awful for Washington lately — entering Monday night’s game, the Wizards were 3-2 in the five games since Wall’s return and notched a win at the always-tough Pepsi Center in Denver.
Portland has seen better days. The Blazers were in the midst of a five-game swoon entering Monday. Nicolas Batum recorded his first career triple-double, but that was of little consolation in a nail-biting loss to the Wizards. How did Portland lose this one? Blazers fans, pick the moment. Was it Damian Lillard‘s dunk over Nene that pulled the score to 91-90 with 2:21 left? Was it Wes Matthews‘ game-tying 3-pointer with 7.9 seconds left that tied it at 95? Or was it Crawford’s game-winner that crushed any hopes of victory? We’ll get into all of this soon.
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?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.
How does Crawford’s shot Monday night stack up? Let’s take a look.
Wizards get the ball on the left sideline, out of bounds, with ex-Blazer Martell Webster serving as the trigger man. Crawford works through a few screens and catches the ball on the wing with Matthews nearby. Crawford gives a small jab step to the right, one hard dribble left, pulls up for the 30-footer (which Matthews recovers and contests nicely) and drains it. Not the prettiest shot and it looked like Crawford may have rushed things a little bit (he’s fading on the shot), but a make is a make.
In terms of the game, Portland was in a dogfight with Washington all evening. The Blazers opened up an eight-point margin in the second quarter and the Wizards had a five-point lead entering the fourth quarter. Overall, this was a nip-and-tuck affair.
Crawford’s shot was probably the only option Washington had. On the inbounds, the Blazers wisely playoff Wall (a notoriously awful 3-point shooter), have the rangy Batum attempt to deny Webster’s inbounds pass while LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson body up on Trevor Ariza and Nene. Matthews fights through the screens well and recovers on defense off Crawford’s jab step. He just didn’t recover enough.
More painful for the Blazers, though, is that this is the second time Crawford hit a big 3-pointer against them to lock up a win (fast-forward to the 2-minute-or-so mark).
Score tied at 95 with 3.6 seconds to go.
This one stings for Portland. The Blazers have been one of the surprises of the West by sticking around the .500 mark (they were a season-best five games over .500 just 10 days ago after Batum ran wild against the Heat) but have since hit the skids and are on the outside of the West playoff picture. The Rose Garden is normally where Portland thrives, but it has lost four straight there. The Blazers are 2-4 at home this month with three more home games to go (against the Pacers, Clippers and Mavs). Not exactly what the Blazers had planned after that upset win against Miami.
For the Wizards, the season is all about developing and assessing the roster while getting Wall and others up to speed together. Wall struggled through a 2-for-8 shooting night with more turnovers (four) than assists (two). It wasn’t exactly a banner night for rookie Bradley Beal (1-for-7, 2 points in 25 minutes) and Kevin Seraphin (3-for-9, six points in 15 minutes), but the Wizards pulled out a close road win in a tough environment. That goes a long way in developing intangibles in D.C.
Of course, the flip side of this is each win gives the Wizards less of a chance of winning the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery, though you’d have to think the fans in D.C. are happier with wins than more shots at the No. 1 pick, right? Right?
Ahh, a young team picks up a hard-earned win on the road. They celebrate just how you’d think: by mobbing/tackling the shot-maker. (Great video here from Wizards.com of the celebration.) Although it’s not quite up there in terms of the volume of celebrations we’ve seen for J.R. Smith by his Knicks teammates this season, the Wizards’ party is there in spirit and quality. Perhaps better than the celebrations, though, are the reactions from the play-by-play teams in both Portland and Washington.
First, we have Portland … or what disappointment sounds like:
Then, we have Washington, or what celebration sounds like:
Gotta love exuberance as Washington’s hometown play-by-play man, Steve Buckhantz, calls Crawford’s shot the “Dagger of the Year!” (Buckhantz also had this classic call of Gilbert Arenas’ game-winner against the Jazz back in 2007).
3 1/2 Horrys seems just right. We’ve had a couple of 3 1/2s this season (Mo Williams, Tony Parker, Joe Johnson) and a couple of plain ‘ol 3-Horry ones (Brandon Jennings, J.R. Smith) and this one seemed more like a 3 when we started. That celebration video above — both of the players mobbing Crawford and the Buckhantz call — give this that little extra oomph to get it to 3 1/2.
What sayeth you?