Horry Scale: Joe Cool

VIDEO: Joe Johnson’s GWBB

The game winning buzzer beaters are coming fast and furious now. So yeah, we’re on the third Horry Scale entry of the last seven days, as last night Joe Johnson and the Brooklyn Nets went to Phoenix, and their game drifted into overtime before JJ managed to end it with a dagger. NBA players obviously can not resist the allure of making Horry Scale appearances.

Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain. What is the Horry Scale? For those who 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.

With the rules in place, let’s check out last night’s game-winner.

I’ve long held that Joe Johnson is one of the most underrated offensive players in the NBA. I watched nearly every Hawks game he played, and saw him night after night carry the load offensively. It wasn’t always pretty, it wasn’t always the most efficient offense, but it was more often than not effective. Johnson can score in so many ways, and that versatility was on display last night. Joe’s GWBB was a runner in the paint with two defenders coming after him. Joe put a slight hesitation dribble on PJ Tucker and watched him soar past, then went up and lofted the ball high over Channing Frye for the bucket, just in time. On first glance it wasn’t particularly spectacular, but the more I watch it the more impressive it becomes — going the length of the court in four seconds, being patient enough to let Tucker take himself out of the play, and then getting the shot off cleanly over a seven-footer before the clock trickled out of time.

So here we are, game tied at 98 in overtime, 8 seconds remaining on the clock and about 2 on the shot clock, and Frye misses a three from the wing. Johnson ends up with the rebound, and the rest is history. You often hear coaches debate whether or not to use a timeout in those circumstances. Do you stop the game to set up a play, but also potentially allow the defense to get set? Or do you take advantage of the chaos and let them play? Another potential subplot for the Nets is, Who takes the final shot in a close game? All of these issues were avoided by Coach Kidd by just letting the game play out in the moment. (Worth noting: Deron Williams had sprained his ankle earlier and was out, so perhaps that played into Kidd’s decision as well.)

The Nets have been struggling this season, starting off 2-5, one loss away from the basement in the Eastern Conference, and not looking anything like the contending team most experts projected them to be. Conversely, the Suns have been surprisingly good, beginning 5-3 and making people wonder if talk of tanking was premature. It’s still early in the season, but a W for the Nets could help them start to turn things around. As Johnson said after the game, “It was big. There could be a domino effect.” The Nets better hope so: They play the Clippers in Los Angeles tonight.

The jubilation was there, if a bit muted until Kevin Garnett arrived and shook up the huddle a bit. To be fair, Joe Johnson has never been accused of being demonstrative. (Also, check out Tucker in the background on his knees, head to the court, literally floored by the loss.) “I couldn’t even celebrate, I was so tired,” Johnson told the New York Post. (He logged almost 45 minutes between regulation and overtime.) “But I was just ready to get out of there. [My teammates] are trying to celebrate and I’m ready to go… I’m like, ‘Let’s go into the locker room and shower and let’s get out of here. … We’ve got a tough game tomorrow.’”

Sneaky difficult shot, pretty important game for the Nets, a team excited to get the win. There have been tougher and more important game winners, for sure, but I feel like this a GWBB that will overlooked by some. Anyway, for the reasons outlined above, I’m giving this one three Horrys.


That’s my take. How many Horry’s would you give Joe Johnson’s game-winner?


  1. soch says:

    1) not that difficult, just a fastbreak layup.
    2) the score was tied, so missing it wouldn’t be detrimental
    3) it was against the phoenix suns (although they have a better record, still not considered an elite team)

    Two horry’s max in my opinion. Although you changed Greens to 4, you originally thought it a 3 making this one fairly close to that one which could not be further from the truth.

  2. David says:

    This is some major BS. Didn’t they give Greens shot a 3 as well?! So those shots were equally clutch?? Joes was a 2 at a stretch, game tied, layup, unimportant game, woulda just gone to overtime again. Jeff greens – down by two, .6 seconds remaining! Hits a fadeaway 3 with lebron in his face! Gotta be a 4 at least! I know it wasn’t a playoff game or anything but still, wtf man?

  3. two…wasn’t a hard shot…just a little floater with defenders playing bad defense…but still…good shot by joe

  4. Rav says:

    “All of these issues were avoided by Coach Kidd by just letting the game play out in the moment” – also, the Nets had no timeouts remaining. If there was a timeout remaining, Kidd would have called it. He’s been pretty poor to start off, but maybe the worst part of his coaching (or at least the bit that most marks him out as a novice) has been his timing with regard to when to call timeouts. He has no shown no sense of momentum so far.

  5. Rav says:

    The whole thing was kinda surreal. Few GWBBs originate via long defensive rebounds like this. Johnson went the length of the court in a one-on-two situation in the last few seconds, and pretty much nobody else made it past halfcourt. I think everybody on the Nets except Livingston watched everything happen from under the opposite basket. Just a really weird end to the game.

  6. bren says:

    would have given it 2 at best.. didnt catch the game but watched the highlights. did anyone noticed the clock stopped @ 2.8 for a split second?? is that a glitch?? looks to me like if the clock kept running the shot might not have counted.

  7. yo says:

    @bren the clock only stopped on the TV display, and no time was lost. if you count each second, it’s still the same length of time, so it was just a display glitch and not a clock error.

  8. dustydreamnz says:

    Yep, 1 or 2 Horry’s. Nothing like Jeff Green’s or even Andre Iguadola’s for that matter.

  9. =.= says:

    HOW IS THIS A 3 !!

    This wasn’t even close to green’s shot (which deserves at least a 4).

    The scale is broken…….

    • Anonymous says:

      Yep, you are right. 3 is TOO high. Jeff Green’s was much HARDER, missing would have meant A LOSS, and it was against an elite team like the HEAT. Either this is a 3 and Green’s is higher, or this is much lower than Green’s 3.

  10. boxoffice says:

    All the posters here trivializing Joe’s shot should go outside and watch fireworks or sth.

    I don’t care for Horry scale and its criteria. What I see is that as opposed to all that crazy shots at the buzzer, Joe’s finish was so crafty, so under the control. That’s what makes it a joy to watch. The way he created space between the two defenders with the hesitation was masterful. Then he sneaked in there and finished the job.

    This move can only be appreciated in Joe scale.

  11. Amin says:

    This guy gives Johnsson lay-up, scores tied, the same grade as Jeff Green’s baseline fadeaway three pointer against Miami, down two?
    Nonsense, frankly.

  12. Oliver says:

    it was no more than a 2… A fastbreak floater, I mean, is that REALLY all that difficult??

  13. NETS says:

    Nets are lakers of last year!

    I would of given this a 2 but it was overtime so it does deserve a 3

    yea green was a 4

    buzzer beater in playoffs is a 5

  14. This sucks, close this blog. says:

    Man just retire…close this blog…Every score is more ridiculous than the previous. ARE YOU SERIOUS WHITAKER? YOu are either paying favorites or are blatantly damaged in the head.

    If Jeff Greens shot is 4 then in relation to his:


  15. BIRD345 says:

    I’m sorry but this is crap. I just laughed at Johnson’s shot rated the same as Green’s. Even if Green’s is raised to 4, Johnson’s can not be only one place down. The score was tied. A barely contested layup.
    My take:
    1. JEFF GREEN – High four/borderline five (I’m sorry but even if this was not playoffs this is the most ridiculous play (not only a shot was spectacular, the whole play was) I’ve seen in my 30+ years of watching basketball.

    2. IUGODALA – Lower end of three. (The shot was spectacular but “lower end because Green’s four was so much more godly).

    3. JOHNSON -Lower end of two (This is not even close to Iguodala’s, let alone being the same score as Jeff Green).

  16. Mike says:

    Green- 5

  17. PhilJack says:

    Three Horry’s? I’m speechless. This is one, two at most. Not in the same league, planet, universe, dimension as Green’s.

  18. ism says:

    The whole point is that this Horry Scale is an entertaining thing to entertain, but it’s got a major flaw: first of all, every play that gets a mention here will be of a certain minimum difficulty and importance, so i guess giving them just 1 or 2 Horrys always feels wrong although it may be right. Secondly, this flaw could be easily worked around by making 10 instead of 5 Horrys. Thus, the 9 and 10 Horry plays would mainly occur only in the playoffs. E.g. Ray’s Game 6 3 would be a 10, Jeff Green’s game winner would be a 8 or 9 (more difficult, but less important), Iggy’s 2 could be a good 7 which would give it justice without overrating and Joe Johnson’s floater would also be something like a 7 because it’s incredibly difficult (look at the way he hesitates and then stretches his arm for the floater!).

    • Peter Quill The Star Lord says:

      totally agree , that move on tucker was insane then the slow release over frye !!! Joe Smooth strikes again

  19. ism says:

    P.S.: how the hell is ray allens clutch 3 NOT mentioned in the Horry scale blog? did i not look right? you should review that thing. Bill Simmons called it the greatest shot in NBA history. I know, big words, but think about it…

  20. Akeem says:

    I’m with the 3. The Nets needed that win BADLY. They were tired, Joe was tired he also hit the tying basket at 00:28 to send it into OT. They needed to win it at that point. He went one on TWO and not two midgets. They couldn’t stop him from the back court all the way to the basket AT the buzzer, with no time for a come back attempt.

  21. KK says:

    I love Robert Horry and all his heroics, because there is nothing like watching his top 10 on youTube, but I think calling it number of “Horry’s” is pretty awkward sounding. The “Horry Scale” should be measured by BSR’s or something like that (Big Shot Rob’s).

    Reply with a thumbs up if you agree!

    Regardless, man is a beast in the 4th quarter. Maybe not first ballot hall of fame, but definitely should be considered a nominee. NBA is a team game and his role as a role player should never be forgotten. He changed the NBA history books, stealing potential titles from the Pistons and Kings. Most influential stretch 4 to play the game.