Horry Scale: The Beard Does It For The First Time!

VIDEO: James Harden dooms the Suns with a step-back jumper

Someone, P.J. Tucker is a good place to start, in that Phoenix Suns locker room has some explaining to do. Did they not read the scouting report? Don’t they know how much James Harden loves to play basketball in the Phoenix area? The Southern California native did paint the town (well, Tempe) for two years as an Arizona State Sun Devil.

So it’s only fitting that his first buzzer-beater (at least in the NBA) came on somewhat familiar turf. And after the way the Golden State Warriors pushed them around in their previous game, Harden’s Houston Rockets couldn’t afford another humbling defeat. Giving the NBA’s leading scorer 16 seconds to work is pretty unfair, if you ask me. That’s more than enough time for Harden to figure out how to take advantage of any elite defender and find a good shot.

If anyone was going to rescue the Rockets in the state of Arizona with a shot at the buzzer … someone find that darn scouting report.

DIFFICULTY

Kevin McHale didn’t waste any time on the white board in the huddle. This was Clutch Bucket 101. “Give the ball to James and everyone else get the heck out of the way.” Without an immediate double-team of Harden that would have forced him to give the ball and make anyone but the best scorer in the league this season beat you, the Suns were baked the moment the ball was thrown in bounds. Again, Clutch Bucket 101!

GAME SITUATION

The Rockets played the final three quarters without Dwight Howard, who left early with a sprained ankle. So that meant Harden spent his entire night going bananas on the Suns. He finished with 33 points, 10 assists and six rebounds and was his usual wicked self from the free-throw line (14-for-17). And somehow the Rockets still needed his heroics to outlast the Suns after leading by 16 points midway through the fourth quarter. The Suns are 24-2 this season when leading at halftime, so the final outcome should not have been in any doubt.

IMPORTANCE

The Rockets need to do everything they can to keep pace with the other teams at the top of the Western Conference standings, so this was a huge game the same way every game they play the remainder of the regular season will be for a team jockeying for playoff position. The Suns are trying to hold off the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder for that eighth and final playoff slot in the West, making each and every lost opportunity a potential dagger down the road.

CELEBRATION

Harden’s hands down, head-to-the-sky individual celebration was done the right way. Act like you’ve been there before (even if, technically, you have not during your NBA career). The Rockets bench showed their leader the appropriate love, but would rather it not be necessary the next time they are up 16 midway through the fourth quarter.

GRADE

I’m an old school enthusiast in just about every way imaginable. That’s why the iso-NBA leading scorer routine worked for me. Someone better read the scouting report next time, though. We’ll give it three Horrys.

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25 Comments

  1. Rhedz03 says:

    The only difficult thing about this shot was the double team that came to harden…So for me it’s 3 Horry…It’s not like he was getting double from the beginning. The step back ankle breaker was cool too as it gave him more space to shoot. I would give him 5 Horry if it was from behind the arc and he was getting double right from the moment that he got the ball.

    Not Bad for the beard…As expected..He is a natural scorer

  2. goaloo02 says:

    Well done,Harden.

  3. flip says:

    Don’t reach young blood

  4. klay day says:

    What a buzzer !! i just don’t get why is pj tucker guarding him after harden humilliated him in the 3rd quarter buzzer as well, other thing quite strange is isaiah thomas on the field for the last play . Jeff Hornacek you know better than that … 4 horrys for me

  5. SATFAN says:

    Don’t be too conservative. Should be 5 no matter what. In 4 seconds, release the ball in 1 second. Two bunnies guarding, one fall down and the other one get dizzy. All the PHX suns fans cried, so the referee give a chance of replay. BOOOM !! Counted.
    They will be haunted by the beard day in and day out for tonight only.

  6. Gunee says:

    Go HARDEN

  7. T says:

    “Harden’s first buzzer-beater” is a pretty misleading statement. Do you know how many times Harden has saved the Rockets, this year alone, in late game situations? I’ve been following the Rockets since day one, so let me tell you, and there’s been NUMEROUS late game situations.

    Harden is CLUTCH AS THEY COME, and that’s why he has my vote over Steph this year for MVP. I think this is the year it will finally show in post season.

  8. william escobedo says:

    Thats not his first buzzer beater …dam who the hell told him that stupid lie

  9. Not Great says:

    Congratulations to Harden for his first in the NBA – no disrespect, but nothing incredibly hard with this buzzer-beater. There was still 16.6 seconds on the clock, plenty of spacing of the floor, the game was TIED (emphasis on tied, and therefore reduced pressure of the need to make a game-winning shot), the double team came late and from his non-dominant driving side. The crossover to create space was great (if anything better than the shot itself) but the second defender was too far to the side, and once again, coming from his non-shooting arm’s side. The defender – Isaisah thomas – is a good 8 inches shorter (not including the height of the jump) and doesn’t reach the shooting frame until after its released and thus, not a huge posing threat. In reality, the shot was barely contested, a tad of off-balanced, but standard 19 footer for him. 2 Horrys at most.

    • jty7271 says:

      I wouldn’t say it was an easy move and shot, but I agree with you on everything else you wrote. 2 Horrys.This writer never seems to take into account whether the score was tied or not before the clutch shot.

  10. Glenn Rock says:

    This buzzer beater reminds me of Michael Jordan’s last shot as a Chicago Bulls. PJ Tucker is a second-hand Bryon Russell.

  11. Moot says:

    Keep trying to watch it but only commercials keep coming up??

  12. walton1 says:

    Lillard time puts this pathetic display to shame

  13. you reach….I teach!!! Ballgame.

  14. nuggstar says:

    He is the best scorrer in the NB@, he is the beard!!! Lets change this blog to” the beard scale!!!” Ill give him 5 $$$ beard’s! $$$

  15. Realdeal says:

    Harden makes big shots in games that aren’t big. Hoory made big shots in big games . The two should not be compared until Harden can prove he can make big shots in big games, because in the past he has chocked in college as well as the pros in big games.

  16. Realdeal says:

    Harden makes big shots in games that aren’t big. Horry made big shots in big games. The two should not be compared until Harden can prove he can make big shots in big games, because in the past he has not done well in college as well as the pros in big games.

  17. Bird33 says:

    It was a great shot, but I’m surprised some gave it 5 Horry’s. It was good…but I don’t think it ranks in all time buzzer beaters – i.e. 5 Horry’s. IMO To get 5 Horry’s, you should need to have at least a few of the following things happening (or similar drama factors)…preferably a long distance 3, be falling backwards and or out of bounds, preferably in an overtime period in a high stakes playoff game that has been a slug fest from wire to wire….give me at least a couple of those (or similar) in a buzzer beater and we can start to talk 5 Horry’s.

    …..but a cross over, step back with only one defensive player on the shooter….it is, at the maximum, 3 Horry’s.

  18. George T., European Fan says:

    I agree with the author. 3 Horries is right. Really loved the celebration.

  19. Buzzer says:

    OK it’s quite a difficult shot, considering it kinda got a little contested by the smallest guy on the court. BUT considering the situation, where the game is TIED, it does not have the make or break situation, and thus generate less pressure than being down by 1 or 2. still a good move, and a good shoot. Two stars for me. It lacks the wow somehow. And the clock should stop at 0.2 or something.

  20. The Voice Of Reason says:

    Eh…Harden’s like 6’5, Isiah Thomas is like 5’9.
    Very nice step back, but this was more about the lack of cover/help defense and coach Hornacek’s lack of strategy.

    Almost feel bad for the Suns, this ain’t the first time it’s happened and unless they learn, it won’t be the last.

  21. Realdeal says:

    Harden has not proven himself in big games. That was not a big game shot. He has not played well in big games in college and the pros. He looked lost in the OKC Miami championship. Horry made big shots in big games. Harden should not be compared to Horry.

  22. Realdeal says:

    Harden cannot be compared to Horry. Horry made shots in important games, Harden has yet to prove himself vital games.

  23. Realdeal says:

    Why does this site moderate benign comments?