Horry Scale: Damian Does It

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com


VIDEO: Lillard’s GWBB

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Earlier tonight I was at Brooklyn/Toronto Game 6, and I was talking with another media member about just how memorable the first round of these playoffs have been. A record number of Game 7s, tons of amazing finishes. HOWEVA, as I pointed out, there had been just one game winning buzzer beater thus far — Vince Carter against the Spurs. From my mouth to the basketball god’s ears, that all changed a few hours later, thanks to Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers, who eliminated the Houston Rockets with a dagger at the buzzer of Game 6 to end the series and give Portland a 99-98 win.

Before we go any further, 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.

After 18 regular season entries, we now have our second of the postseason. Let’s break this down…

DIFFICULTY
As a shot, it wasn’t the toughest, mainly because Lillard was so open. On the inbound pass, Lillard basically just outran defender Chandler Parsons to get to the ball. You may wonder why a forward was guarding a much faster point guard on the play. This is a valid question. It wasn’t like Parsons got picked or screened, he was just out-run by Lillard, who was able to catch a pass and turn and shoot. And I love how if you look closely, you can see how he calls for the ball as he runs toward it. “I squared up and snapped my wrist,” Lillard told ESPN’s Heather Cox in his postgame interview, giving Portland their first first-round series win since 2000.

GAME SITUATION
This has been a series about as close as it gets. These teams had turned in three overtime performances in their first five games, and this seemed destined for another OT. On their final possession, the Rockets weren’t able to get a clear look, until a rebound fell into Parsons’ hands under the basket and he flipped it up and in an easy shot to give Houston the lead with 0.9 remaining. It seemed like this was destined to go to 7 games like so many other series. But on the ensuing inbound, Lillard broke free and send the Rockets back to Texas.

CELEBRATION
I’m going to let this Vine speak for me. Crank up the volume and check this out…

GRADE
I took some heat earlier this season when I gave some shots lower grades than you guys felt some shots deserved. My rationale was that the moments weren’t as large as they would be late in the season or in the postseason. Like tonight. The last time someone made a GWBB to end a series?

So yeah. I briefly thought about giving this shot 6 Horrys. But no. I’m going 5 Horrys…

horry-starhorry-starhorry-starhorry-starhorry-star

What say you? How many Horry’s would you give Damian Lillard’s GWBB?

86 Comments

  1. naterich21 says:

    Absolutely absurd. First series winning game winner in 17 years! The Horry Scale should be renamed the Lillard Scale!!

  2. Justin says:

    Rip City is just starting!!!

    GO BLAAAAAAAAAAZERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Five says:

    Not a Portland fan here but I give it a 5. Lillard has the killer instinct and a minus 100 degrees in his veins.

    • NewYorker says:

      Agreed. He’s a stone cold killer. I’m a big fan, also because he does not celebrate like crazy after he makes a 3-pointer sometime in the middle of the game.

  4. Kevron says:

    This was so huge. 5 on the Horry scale for sure. What made this so huge for myself (and most Blazer fans I’m sure), was that this felt like game 7. I was genuinely worried about the Rockets momentum and confidence if they could pull off the win in this game 6.

    Dame Over. Rip City baby!!

  5. The Hero, The Savior and The So so says:

    Good thing for Lin he was not the one guarding Lillard or else he will be crucified forever. Beverley the so called ‘best defender’ got lost in that play. Lillard even waited for Parsons for the poster to be complete before drilling the shot. Five Horrys!

  6. yes says:

    CB4 in the house

  7. Albert says:

    if they win the title I will give it a five horry

  8. ugproduction says:

    Absolute dagger.
    5 Horries hands down.
    #Hey D12 make all your free throws @ crunch time and you wont have to feel the dagger Next time

  9. sr says:

    what is the conversion factor from Horry to Lillard scale ?

  10. Midnightstar2028 says:

    As last second buzzer beaters go, this ranks at the top of the pile as for as and shot made made and player in a Portland Trail Blazer uniform. Lilliard was Andre3000 on this one: Spectacular!! As mentioned before in a just written article covering the game, Brandon Roy’s Last Second buzzer beater against these Rockets back in the 2008 home opener was great, and I would rate that shot a 4 on the Horry Scale. Lilliard is two months short of his 24th birthday, so he still was a lot of time to perfect his game and add to his legend.

  11. meandeanmachine says:

    “So yeah. I briefly thought about giving this shot 6 Horrys. But no. I’m going 5 Horrys…”
    You couldn’t have said it better. This was as good as it gets.
    I raised my hands in the air instinctively after the shot and I’m not even a Blazers fan.

  12. Clips says:

    Easy 5, amazing shot.

  13. Brent says:

    That was the definition of “clutch”.

  14. The Hero, The Savior and The So so says:

    Good thing for Lin he was not the one guarding Lillard or else he will be crucified forever. Beverley the so called ‘best defender’ got lost in that play. Lillard even waited for Parsons to complete the poster scene before drilling the shot. Five Horrys!

  15. Arky says:

    This is exactly why, if anything most regular season Horries get overrated by people. THIS is 5 out of 5. Nothing in the regular season, not the most insane jumping spinning half court shot with 0.3 seconds left between the bitterest of rivals, gets close to this.

    I was telling people during the game 1 OT that this postseason was going to make Lillard a superstar, but I never thought THIS would happen. Wow. Shades of MJ.

    • enderwilson says:

      Apart from the “bitterest of rivals” comparison, 100% agree. Any regular season game winner that is not teeming with emotion, history, rivalry, or season-defining significance should never even be considered for a 5.

      THIS is the new standard for all game winners to be compared to.

      • Denholm says:

        Thought that giving Jeff Green’s game winner 3 horries was criminally underrating what a shot that was though, agreed the celtics were headed nowhere but the trash can in search of lottery picks, but the celtics-heat rivalry had been one of the bitterest for 4 years and the underdogs who werent tipped to win 25+ games beat the defending champs on an impossible game winner gotta get a 4 at least

        Rant over

        oh and this guy called damian lillard can shoot apparently…. who knew?

  16. Darren says:

    Excellent shot, brilliant playoff series, 5 Horrys well deserved.
    I doubt Parsons thought that he would just out run him, he was looking for a pick or two.
    Blazers though they lack defence are going into the next round to give Dallas or San Antonio trouble…BEST PLAYOFFS IN AGES!!!

  17. Lendy says:

    You folks in Portland must heard my thunderous scream from here in Singapore…Even my mom in WA state heard it from her heart! Wow…that was historical. Thanks to the NBA international broadband I don’t have to miss anything about my beloved Blazers though I’ve been in Singapore in the last 19 years. Oh and of course there are the Seahawks!! What a half a year this has been!!

  18. LiLARD FOR WIN says:

    Rockets Going FISHING!! LMAO Epic WIN!!!

  19. Blazering says:

    oh, this has to count double. Fantastic, though Vinces 3 looked more spectacular, I dont kow why.

  20. jason says:

    I have given four hurry’s purely because it was not a game 7 or the finals. Was a great shot though!!!

  21. PotatoMunch says:

    Four Horrys, because 5 Horrys is reserved for 4-point plays when down 3 in the last second of game 7 of the NBA finals.

  22. Jack says:

    If that is No 5Horrys then i dont know what is

  23. Ryan says:

    Just curious if any playoff buzzer-beater is not ranked as 5 Horry?

  24. Mary says:

    I do believe the Blazer faithful have been on the receiving end of more than one of Robert Horry’s GWBB….we prepaid for this one!

  25. MauricioCHD says:

    I’m a fan of Houston, I wanted a game 7…, but that was a HHHELLL OF A SHOT. You can’t do anything about it.

  26. DBlack says:

    While Lillard’s shot was terrific and clutch we should all remember that this was not a title series. “Big shot Bob” did his thing when the magnitude of the moment was as high as it could possibly be, when the expectations were at their greatest for him and his team. To award a Horry score of five in a game that is not even a conference final minimizes the true impact that Robert Horry had upon the game. Score it a FOUR. Unless you live in Portland.

  27. Jack says:

    From your mouth to the basketball god’s ear? SMH

  28. emio says:

    SO CHILL, SO BAY
    Lilllard got free because right before the ball was handed to Batum, he stood there like he was pumping gas, he had his head cocked back, chill posture, almost bored, like he was waiting for a chick to get out of the bathroom. He FROOZE poor Parcens. And as soon as the ball was handed over….SNAP! Damian was in the NBA playoffs, game 6, 0.9 seconds from victory.. and chandler parsons was left in the bathroom.

  29. Bill W says:

    Of course Parsons WAS screened – twice. It’s called a stagger, which he foolishly went behind and too deep to recover. Either he should have stayed high or the second screen should have prompted a switch.

  30. Marcus says:

    Five Horry’s. No question about it. Fading left 5 feet behind the 3-point line? That is insanely hard.

    Won them their first playoff series in 14 years.

  31. OKC says:

    Any buzzer beater in the playoffs, let alone an elimination game is 5 stars for sure. What a shot!

    Like I said early in the season, OKC vs Portland for the western conference finals.

  32. ripcity>htown says:

    Look at all those bitter Houston fans voting. Rip City loves it. Have fun rooting for us!

  33. emio says:

    just watch Chandlar Parsons take a seat..LOL!!!

  34. mgm says:

    Lang, you did a great job this time giving this 5 Horrys. Your credibility is up yall.

  35. Balldontlie says:

    Everything else you’ve written out was spot on. Except you mentioned that it was an easy shot? You’re funny. You’re saying that it’s easy to outrun a defender with a quick first step while concentrating on getting the ball, squaring up with perfect form and finally finishing it off with a quick release in as little as 0.9 seconds left? A shot that was way beyond the three point line itself? Come on… It was an open shot, a clear shot but an easy shot? You make it sound like a layup drill. Pff let’s see you try.

  36. Sid says:

    Sorry Dwight sems that this is the second year in line to be gone fishing after first round! I’m really sorry!

  37. NBA says:

    5 HORRYS FOR SURE!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. ASO says:

    CLUTCH is the pedal you step on your stick car….. Imas!

  39. ban says:

    should only be 4, he was wide open and defender was not at his face

  40. Evens says:

    I rank this most amazing moment so far in the 2014 Playoffs. I’m not even a Blazers fan. There’s no question about it: 5 Horrys.

  41. Paul B says:

    5 Horrys and a couple of Fishers

  42. celentano says:

    I give him a 3 horry because this shot was an easy shot on Nba play-off scale!!! Bad defence though,no double team+it was longer before the buzz than usual!!!
    Saw much more exiting shot’s from the past with more difficult situations like double,triple teams + handchecking of course,nah just 3 Horry’s nothing more this wasn’t so difficult to do with bad defence!
    Man the Nba is just dumb’d down for real!!!

  43. Outcoached says:

    Houston get a real coach! Stotts > McHale by a mile!

    • euar says:

      you are depending on one shot? Houston was better team in first game, so right now series must be even.
      its Lillards luck not coaching

      • Marcus says:

        If you followed the blazers in the regular season you would know how good Stotts is at drawing up inbounds plays with a twenty second timeout. People are also debating whether or not McHale should be fired, meanwhile Stotts is not even close to that conversation, although not a lot of people gave the blazers a chance.

        You also said that Houston was the better team in the first game, but Terry Stotts used the “hack a player” tactic which won the blazers the game, and followed in coach Nate McMillan’s footsteps by sticking to the overused and underappreciated pick and pop style so that everyone gets touches, compared to the Rockets who give it to either Harden, or Howard.

        It was a good game, and an even better series because the games were decided by so little, but in my opinion the better team won.

        TL;DR (Too long; didn’t read): Stotts has a history of drawing up good plays, and it was not luck.

  44. Alf says:

    Because I was there in the arena, I want to give it a 6. However, with Lillard as open as he was, and it being Lillard, I want to give it a 4. Damian is Mr. Clutch.

    HOWEVER! It is worth pointing out that this is Lillard’s first trip to the playoffs, with a game 7 in Houston riding on his shot, immediately after a blown call by the officials that wrongly put the ball in the hands of the Rockets allowing them another chance to capture the lead which they did. It only could’ve been more clutch if this were the finals, in which case we would be renaming the scale after Damian.

  45. en says:

    Rockets fan…..hard to deal wit it but its reality…just like next round for rest in peace city

    • We will see says:

      I don’t think that prediction can be made until we know who we are playing against. Good series H-Town.

  46. Scott says:

    I Love you Dame. I love you Blazers! 5 for sure no question.

  47. Blazers6thMan says:

    Blazers fan here. Was in the arena for the shot. WE. FREAKED. OUT. Thought for sure we were going to a game 7 and then he hit that and everyone started screaming, high fiving, and hugging everyone else. Chanting “LETS GO BLAZERS” miles away from the arena back to our cars. The whole night was just insane.

  48. Swede says:

    Lilliard is cooler than Sweden in January -Five on the Horry scale !

    • Sergio says:

      I love how you can pick out all the Houston fans in this comment section… Just look for negativity… I love even more how Houston fans are already saying Blazers will lose in the next round and they don’t even know who we are playing…. A first seed or an 8th seed… That is the definition of a hater and you all are making Houston look even worse than it already does… 5 Horey’s hands down for the Blazers and Houston gets 5 on the EL FLOPPO scale :)

  49. scooterwes says:

    “Level of difficulty…average” What???
    A 3 is hard enough with feet planted and facing the basket. Lillard was running full tilt towards Batum while catching the ball, putting on the brakes while swiveling 90 degrees towards the basket, jumping two feet in the air and backwards while shooting to avoid Parson’s outstretched arms. And 5 feet beyond the arch. “Bout as hard a 3p can get, I reckon.
    Still, you gave him 5 stars, so we’ll ignore this oversight.

  50. Kal says:

    uh no, to the idiot up top, this should not be renamed the Lillard scale. Google Robert Horry’s career, please…

    Vince Carter’s shot was tougher and more amazing than Lillard’s… but Lillard’s was for the series win.

    so, both very deserving of the 5 Horrys IMO. very great playoffs so far.

  51. fruityfree says:

    Unbelievable shot. But I wonder, isn’t it was a travel from Lilliard? I’m from Europe, that would be definitely a call here.
    Disclaimer: I’m not a Houston fan in any means. Just trying to understand rules.

  52. Loke says:

    Lillard is SPECIAL!! no doubt a 5..

  53. Mizzo_chi says:

    Damian Lillard been on beast mode. He is a rebirth of Derrick rose before the knee problems. So entertaining to watch

  54. OldCelt says:

    1 base

    +1 playoffs
    +1 they lose the game if he misses
    +0.5 and look into road game 7 if they do
    +1 very little time left
    +1 long shot

    -1 practically no defense

    4.5 horrys

    but because its Portland and its more than a decade since last playoff 2nd round

    5 horrys

  55. Jeff says:

    Just gave him 3Hs. -1 because there was no defense and -1 because it was just the first round of the playoffs.

    • lakeshow says:

      First round of the western conference playoffs is better then the eastern conference finals. Take your negativity somewhere else. Everyone knows that shot was as cold as they get.

      • Jeff says:

        @lakeshow No negativity–just a different opinion. 5 Hs for a great game winning shot, under great defence, in the NBA finals. Lilliard did a great game winning shot, under no defence, in the first round of the playoffs. I’d rate it the same for the second or third round of the playoffs.

  56. erson Nimeisa says:

    WAY to go blazers…

  57. Agudo says:

    I give him a 5, but what are we gonna give him when he drops a GWBB in the finals?

  58. RAY says:

    dudes vince still the hardest dagger compare to lilliard.
    lilliar was soo open. 2 horry.

  59. mcdice420 says:

    EMPLOYEE NUMBER 0 LILLARD Straight UP Stone Cold ,ICE COLD Flowing thru his Veins… STRaight UP dagger into HOUston ROCket HEART…..VERY as in so VERY VERY CLUTCH performNCE OF D…LiLLARD

  60. Blazerfanfolife says:

    I gave it a five. Its been a lot of years since a shot got me out of my seat while watching the game at home. Go Blazers RIP CITY!

  61. jake s. says:

    Dr. Horry you have a call on line five… It’s Damian Lillard.

  62. Blazermaniac says:

    Another thing that might be considered for the Horry scale is how many daggers has he hit this year… I think Lillard has about five.

  63. TheTruth says:

    Damian repping Ogden, Ut and Weber St. heck yeah!!!!!!!!

  64. enderwilson says:

    “I took some heat earlier this season when I gave some shots lower grades than you guys felt some shots deserved.”

    That’s not the sum of it, Lang. I believe your liberal handing out of 5 stars has been more egregious. It’s a 1-5 point scale. Is there ever a scenario where you will use 1 and 2 stars that is worth reporting about. I think most of the regular season winners were probably within the 2-3 range. At least this gives room for better game winners at the top. Otherwise the Horry scale becomes trite and you diminish the significance of Lillard’s game winner by giving it the same score as the other 5s you gave during the regular season.

  65. Derek Benedict says:

    Remember “the shot” by MJ? The hyperbolic fist-pumping afterward? If you can find the clip of Dames face just after he hits the shot it looks like hes about to yawn! ICE COLD KILLER! Rip City 2014!

  66. Pohnpei Blazers Fan Club Vice President says:

    Awesome! Go BLAZERS

  67. Stephane says:

    Come on!! 5 horrys (or even 6) for a first round buzzer beater!!
    Sure the serie was hard but still 1st round. Not the drama of the finals.

    4 horrys at best, definitely

  68. LovantheNBA says:

    Lillard and Rip City represent here. But you need 6 playoff clutch shots to match Horry YOUNGBLOOD. Respect your Elders.

    Drexler for President.

  69. Nick says:

    Some seriously bitter Rockets fans voting 1, 2 or 3 Horrys

    • Jay says:

      I’m not a rockets fan but said it should be around 3-4 horries max. Basically because the defender was not switched on and it is a first round buzzer beater only. If it was game 7 and it is a case of go home if he missed then I would say it is a solid 4 horries. 5’a have to b reserved for finals and deeper playoff rounds.

  70. wbhallows says:

    The Houston Rockets vs Portland Trailblazers Round 1, Game 6 should have been won by the Houston Rockets. The game clock was not started on the final inbounds play until Damian Lillard had: caught the ball, took two steps (traveled), turned, jumped and then released the 3 point shot at the top of his jump. It is physically impossible for all of that to have occurred within 0.9 seconds. The game clock was not started until he started his shooting motion. Therefore, time should have expired prior to his shot. The clock operator had already had an incident at the end of the 3rd quarter in this same game, where he started the game clock too early on the inbounds play for Houston (with 0.3 seconds remaining). The time expired before the ball was ever touched by a player. The officials added 0.2 seconds back to the game clock (which really made no sense – no time should have been removed) so Houston could throw the ball back in again to finish the 3rd quarter.
    This is the 3rd game in this series that the NBA officials made calls that altered the final outcome of the game in favor of the Portland Trailblazers. The first two were admitted to by the NBA league office the following day. One was the foul called on Dwight Howard instead of on Joel Feeland, who made 1 of 2 free throws in game 1, instead of Dwight shooting free throws (this game ended tied because of it and the Rockets lost in overtime). The other was a technical foul called on Dwight Howard that was reversed the next day. The points both times put the games into overtime. Admitting wrong doing did not change the fact that the wins (which should have gone to the Houston Rockets) were awarded to the Portland Trailblazers in error. Now it happened again in the series deciding game and play.

    This horrible officiating has cost the Houston Rockets, the City of Houston and many businesses in Houston millions of dollars in lost revenue that would have been made if the Houston Rockets would have continued into the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs. This series between the Portland Trailblazers and the San Antonio Spurs should have been stopped until this incident could be fully reviewed, but that won’t happen. The San Antonio Spurs will show everyone that the Portland Trailblazers DO NOT belong in the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs as then did in game 1 of the 2nd round yesterday smoking them by 24 points!! The Trailblazers won’t get all of those flop calls they got against the Rockets as they are playing the Spurs who get respect from the officials.

  71. ABSOLUTELY 5 HORRY’S!

  72. SharpieOne says:

    I don’t think it’s a perfect 5. I don’t believe anything is perfect. It’s the same reason I hate when judges give dunks in the dunk contest perfect scores, somebody can always do it better. This shot was amazing and almost left me completely speechless after seeing it happen on T.V. I tried to jump up and cheer but all that managed to come out of my mouth was “WOW.” I’d have to give this shot 4.9 Horry’s (9.8 out of 10), it was that amazing. I’d feel really bad if someone hit a Game 7 3 point buzzer beater, while being down 2, in triple overtime, in the NBA Finals, with a hand in their face, with only 0.4 seconds left and they end up getting the same score.

  73. Paris says:

    Only 23y.o. in his 2nd year has done it quite a few times already..If he goes on like this in a while we will be talking about Lillard scale.
    Congratulations from a Greek fan, True cold-blooded hero!