VIDEO: Horford’s Game Winner
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s a good thing we put the Horry Scale on wheels a few months ago, because we’ve now had to break it out two weekends in a row. Tonight, Al Horford answered his former Hawks teammate Joe Johnson’s overtime game-winner from a few weeks back with an overtime GWBB of his own.
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, Today we turn our tired eyes to my dear departed hometown, the ATL shawty, and let’s check out tonight’s game-winner from Al Horford…
I think this was supposed to be a play for Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver, who ran off three screens on the wing but couldn’t find room to get the ball. (A Hawks source told me they hadn’t seen the Hawks use that set all season.) With Korver covered, Horford cut toward the basket, and Hawks big man Pero Antic lobbed it high and far. Horford made a terrific play creating space by keeping Washington’s Trevor Booker an arm’s length away as he drifted back, like a wide receiver making space to catch a pass. Once he made the catch, the shot itself wasn’t all that difficult — the kind of jumper Horford hits with regularity. As a rookie, Horford was consistently left open for shots like this because he wasn’t nearly as good a shooter as he’s developed into. These days Horford is essentially money out to 17 feet — as long as he has room to get the shot off — banging in those flat-footed jumpers.
The Hawks led throughout the second half and were up by 15 in the fourth before finding themselves down two with seconds to play in regulation. Horford made two free throws with 5.5. seconds remaining in order to tie the game and prep it for overtime. When Horford hit the game-winner, the score was tied at 99 and the clock racing to zero. But the 1.8 second left when Horford made the catch gave him plenty of time to get the shot off, and just a short enough time frame to not allow the Wizards a touch once the ball went through the net. (Which also required me to write this post at 1:13 AM. Thanks Al!)
The more Horry Scale posts I’ve penned, the more GWBB I’ve examined, the more I’ve realized that when it comes to celebration, it’s not always only about the players celebrating. Yes, the Hawks players are pumped up and they respond to Horford’s shot with the requisite jumping around, but what elevates the celebration — any celebration, really — is the participation of those uninvolved with the actual game. In this case, I loved seeing Harry the Hawk sprinting down the court to get involved, and in a few camera angles you see several fans along the sideline leaping up and down.
The more I think about these GWBB, I’m not sure how I would ever give a game-winning shot a one or two rating. These are big moments, big shots, and I don’t feel like we can rate anyone’s big shot as less than average. That said, I’m going with three on this shot. It wasn’t much of a shot from a technical standpoint, but the celebration helps, as does the game being in overtime. So I say three.
What say you? How many Horrys would you give Al Horford’s game-winning buzzer beater?