ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Sometimes all it takes is one game, one play, one shot to sum up an entire season. In this case, it told the tale of both the Raptors and Wizards, who are going in vastly different directions.
There was Cory Joseph burying a 3-pointer as the horn sounded to give the Raptors a fourth straight victory and a starring role as the clutch performer in Saturday night’s edition of the Horry Scale.
There was John Wall clanking a pair of free throws with 3.8 seconds left that set up the hero spot for Joseph and ultimately sent the under performing Wizards to their fourth straight defeat. Can we start the Nick Anderson Scale in honor of gagging from the foul line?
For those unfamiliar, 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 night in November?) and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.
One thing to get straight: 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. In short, it’s about the total package.
Joseph may have come into the game shooting just 25 percent (4-for-16) from behind the arc on the season. But he surely has not had a more wide open look at a trey, maybe in his entire career. With the Washington defense looking as confused and ineffective as members of Congress, Joseph practically had time to order out for a pizza before he loaded up, let fly and found the bottom of the net.
Wall was already 6-for-25 from the field when he stepped up to the free throw line for the two shots that could have given the Wizards a three-point lead. But a season in which he’s looked like anything but the franchise player to take Washington to the next level sank to new depths when he missed both free throws. You just knew what was going to happen next. With 3.0 seconds left, DeMarre Carroll shoveled the inbounds pass to DeMar DeRozan, who turned left around the corner and drove the baseline. That’s when Ramon Sessions was sucked in badly, collapsing to the lane and leaving Joseph all alone in the left corner. DeRozan spotted him, made the easy feed and the Raptors won 84-82.
Joseph let fly, knew it was good and ran to midcourt, where he was greeted by DeRozan and a chest-bumping Kyle Lowry, then the rest of the Raptors bench. It was a Toronto happy dance for four in a row.
We give Joseph credit for stepping up with the clock running down and his team trailing by a point. But as mentioned, he couldn’t have a more uncontested shot if he were shooting for stuffed teddy bears on a carnival midway. We’re giving it two Horrys. And giving Wall two Nick the Bricks.