Horry Scale: Waiters Serves

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

VIDEO: Waiters’ game-winner

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Things have been quiet of late around Horry Scale country. Too quiet, to be honest. In fact, things were quiet enough that I knew something had to be afoot. After a record-setting pace though the All-Star break, we hadn’t had a game winning buzzer beater since Dirk Nowitzki dispatched the Knicks back 31 days ago. And yet here are, back and at it once again, thanks to Dion Waiters and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who knocked off Detroit 97-96.

Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain why we’re here: 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.

One thing I’d like to clear up: 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. So when I gave Randy Foye a 3 Horry rating, that wasn’t only a reflection of his shot, which was admittedly remarkable, as I wrote, but also the play, which was awful. Taj Gibson’s lefty layup wasn’t the toughest shot, but that inbounds play was terrific. Basically, everything matters.

We all clear? OK, let’s break tonight’s shot down, our sixteenth Horry Scale entry of the season…

I know someone will get into the comments section and argue that this wasn’t all that tough of a shot. But to me it was a pretty difficult shot on two different levels. First, it was essentially a tightly contested jumper, with Rodney Stuckey directly in Waiters’ face. That’s a tough shot no matter how good a shooter you might be. Second, Waiters didn’t drive, so to free up room he did the dribble left/shoot right move, which as anyone who has played basketball can tell you, is much tougher than it looks.

This category is where this shot picks up steam. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Cavs were losing 82-66. They mounted a bit of a comeback but were still down 9 with 3:38 to play, when a Kyle Singler jumper gave Detroit a 96-87 lead. But Detroit would not score again. By the time Detroit got the ball with just under a minute to play, their lead was down to 1. They ran the clock down, missed a shot, got the ball back, and then missed another shot with 3.2 remaining. And that’s when we pick up action in the clip above. The play design wasn’t all that spectacular — Waiters pushed off a bit to get open and catch the pass, but he was able to make the play when it counted. Of course, Waiters knew it all along …

Considering this was a game between two teams with no chance of making the playoffs, you wouldn’t think there was much riding on it. But when you factor in the epic comeback by the Cavs, I guess you can understand the Cavs reacting like they just won a playoff game. To me the most telling reaction was the fan just behind the basket in the beige shirt, who has his arms raised to the heavens as the ball flies through the air, and then as it swishes through, puts his head into his hands and collapses into his seat.

I know it wasn’t a game of any consequence, and that certainly works against the importance of the play. But the reaction is so intense and genuine that I think we have to consider this. So, all factored together, I’m playing this down the middle and giving this Three Horrys out of five …


What say you? How many Horry’s would you give Dion Waiters’ GWBB?


  1. Max meyerson says:

    Cavs are 3.5 games out with 9 games to play and only face 3 above .500 teams and the hawks face 6 above .500 teams soo when you say we have no shot at the playoffs… Wrong

    • Jordan says:

      Max is right. With the Hawks’ rougher schedule for the rest of the way combined with the fact that the Cavs have been trending upwards and the Hawks downwards, it’s completely viable that the Cavs make the playoffs. It wouldn’t be easy, but a quick losing streak by the Hawks and a quick winning streak by the Cavs is all it would take.

  2. Genuine says:

    Definitely a four, the celebration drags this play up hugely as it is just so genuine it’s impossible not to smile (unless you’re a pistons fan). In the game situation you should factor in what the Cavs have been through this season in terms of turmoil in the locker room. To see them come together to celebrate like that….just awesome

  3. Calvin Pryts says:

    The cavs have a legit shot at making the playoffs idk why you would say this game means nothing for them3 and a half games behind ATL. Cavs are on a 3 game win streak and their schedule starts to get pretty easy while the hawks have lost about 5 straight and their schedule gets pretty tough… Not to mention that they play each other next week. 3 and a half games isn’t really that much

  4. Jonathan says:

    That was so awesome I think it deserved a 5 star

  5. BigMike(from North Hill in akron,Ohio) says:

    NO shot at making playoffs??I guess that depends on how bad New York and Atlanta want it.Cavs are only 3.5 out of playoff race, We may not make the playoffs,but to say we have no shot is horrible journalism.

  6. dustydreamnz says:

    Wasn’t a game of any consequence? I thought when Irving went down the Cavs were doomed but the have been superb without him, I think they’ll make the 8th spot.
    As for 3 stars? I actually think 3-4 so better rating this time.

  7. what says:

    to me that waiter buzzer looked like a travel, took a dribble, carried the ball and took a step to the left

  8. Lucky Star says:

    The Cavs still see themselves as in the playoff race. Their chances are very, very tiny, but they’re still attempting to achieve it. So to them, it really was a big win. They can’t afford any losses right now.

  9. Shawn Kemp no. 1 says:

    that was a good one, 4

  10. zg says:

    Its either bad math or just hating, saying that Cavs have no chance making playoffs..Since east is so f***d up 3 games are not so much, and Atl is not playing lights out lately. Cavs really had the will to win last couple of games, coming back in 4ths and stuff, all props to them

  11. PJCavs says:

    So if the Cavs continue this run and the Knicks and Hawks continue to blow what should be easy games for them, quite possible, are you going to revisit this shot and add an additional Horry because this game is actually of importance?

    or will you pretend you never said anything about the Cavs not having any chance at making the playoffs?

  12. NoDaK says:

    This would be so much better if you had gotten your hands on the Cavaliers’ feed of this rather than the Detroit feed. Fred McLeod’s enthusiasm on the call puts it over the top.

    Four Horrys.

  13. Steve says:

    Tough, tough shot. Good move (may have travelled though). The rhythm on that move was very awkward, which is great if your the offensive player and in control, which he clearly appeared to be. If you’re the defender, that’s tough as heck to guard, because it doesn’t look like a normal shot rhythm at all. As a defender you know it’s going up because of the time left. The defender played it about as well as he could. The only thing he could have done better was force him toward the base-line. But the defensive pressure made Waiters have to almost fade. Great d. That is a difficult, difficult shot. Deserves every bit of the 3 stars that it got, if not more.

  14. Jay Cavs says:

    No chance at the playoffs, are you kidding me? They are PROBABLY NOT going to make it…but the Hawks look like they are tanking now. If the Cavs beat the Hawks and win 5 or 6 of their remaining 8 games, they’ll make it. I Agree with PJCavs, add an Horry if they make the playoffs.

  15. GoGSW says:

    That’s some shot right there!And he swished it,not even touched the iron!

  16. darncat says:

    Cavs are still in the run, and it was a big shot. I gave it a 4 because the situation wasn’t on the same level as a championship game shot; however if the Cavs win out and make the play-offs, it’d have to be a 5 at that point. This one was extremely exciting as it happened, but it will be easier to judge its importance a few weeks from now.

  17. Ebony says:

    Ummmm, actually the Cavs are still in the playoff hunt and that buzzer beater actually helped keep them alive even after being down big, sooooo take a second and rate it again.

  18. Jacques Durceille says:

    This is 1 Horry at most. These teams are not playoff teams. This is a garden variety game of the lowest order. Two teams who are not in the playoffs. There is no importance to this game. This game decides nothing and has no implications. It can’t be 3 horry’s. It can’t even be 2 Horrys.

  19. Justin from Cleveland says:

    Kyrie hurt. Dion feels he needs to step. He feels obligated to fill that void. This shot typifies Dion’s ability to create–the singular skill Chris Grant valued more than any other in drafting him #4 overall–and it is one of the hardest things to do. But with the game on the line, with your team clinging to every win with plausible Round 1 playoff hopes, Dion Waiters proved he can create his own shot. Few people can do that–from anywhere on a basketball court–in under 3 seconds. But he drained that shot with time to spare and the horn sounded while it was in mid-arc.

    Great back-story too:
    1. Kyrie & Dion in the “players-only” lockerroom disagreement
    2. Dion publicly taking partial blame for Chris Grant’s firing: citing his and the team’s less-than-stellar play for Grant’s ouster

    When–not if–the Cavaliers overtake the Hawks in April, let’s revisit this page and comment. It will be such long overdue fun to literally punch postseason tickets, won’t it Cavs fans?

  20. sonofabbas says:

    j smoove, brandon jennings, two of the hardest working, most efficient, good attitude, ballers in the league, on a well run team, in a great American city!

  21. jumps says:

    Definitely a four. The Cavs are still scratching toward the playoffs (at least in their imaginations), the shot was difficult, and the reaction was genuine and awesome.