The Horry scale

Celtics’ Bradley nails winning 3 to hand Cavs second loss in row

VIDEO: Celtics offense set up Avery Bradley for game-winner.

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Imagine that.  A whole lot of disconnectedness of brains to bodies and David Blatt wasn’t even in the building.

Sure, Isaiah Thomas made the pass to the open man and Avery Bradley coolly buried the clutch 3-pointer out of the left corner.  But you have have to hand it to the Cavaliers for the way they handed the game to Boston.

The Cavs were up by five with 18 seconds left in the game before Celtics forward Jae Crowder made a 3-pointer – his only basket – and Evan Turner scored on a layup while being fouled by J.R. Smith with four seconds to play. Turner missed his free throw but the ball went out of bounds off Cleveland’s LeBron James.

That set the stage for Bradley to give the Celtics their eighth win in the last nine games — 104-103 — with his jumper in front of the Boston bench just as the horn sounded and take the starring role in Friday night’s Horry Scale.

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.

DIFFICULTY — When Thomas took the inbounds pass and drew the Cavs defense to him, it became a wide open look for Bradley from out of the left corner.  Iman Shumpert made a half-hearted defensive lunge, but Bradley was already locked in from long range Friday night and his game-winner made him 4-for-8 from behind the arc.

GAME SITUATION — Coach Brad Stevens has his young Celtics playing hard and aggressively every night out and that’s more than anyone could have said about the Cavs in this one.  They were a step and a thought slow all night.  In blowing a five-point lead, the Cavs had Smith letting Turner drive the baseline and then saw big man Timofey Mozgov fumble the ensuing missed free throw out of bounds, setting up the last play and shot.

CELEBRATION — Bradley hit his shot right in front of the visiting Boston bench.  He was immediately wrapped in a hug by Thomas, who delivered the pass and then danced off the floor amid the waving arms of his jubilant teammates.

GRADE — Like the Cavaliers, we’re feeling generous and giving Bradley three Horrys for turning out the lights at The Q with his winning 3-pointer.

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Horry Scale: D-Will shoots down Kings


VIDEO: Deron Williams nails a corner three to give the Mavericks a 117-116 overtime win over the Kings

Deron Williams is really back now.

Back to playing major minutes, back in the Dallas starting lineup and back to celebrating, all thanks to the 3-pointer at the buzzer of the second overtime that gave the Mavericks a 117-116 victory over the Kings on Tuesday night.

Williams had officially returned two games before after missing four consecutive outings with a strained left hamstring. But those two were for 20 minutes against the Heat and 21 against the Pelicans, and in a reserve role.

He went back into the opening lineup Tuesday, then played 43 minutes and hit 10 of 18 shots, including three of six behind the arc. And then he capped the night off in style.

DIFFICULTY

D-Will had an open look, but only after a lot of work.

He caught the inbounds pass from Devin Harris while on the move and facing the Kings bench, with his back to the basket.  Williams turned, gave a pump fake that sent Rudy Gay flying past, put his right foot into two-point territory, and pulled it back behind the line, the difference between the win and a third overtime.

Only after all that did Williams step into the hero role. The shot itself wasn’t terribly difficult. Getting there, though, was a challenge.

GAME SITUATION

The Mavericks trailed by as many as seven points in the second overtime before rallying. The Kings did their part when Darren Collison, a former Dallas point guard, air balled a 15-footer with about two seconds remaining, causing a 24-second violation with 2.3 seconds remaining and giving the current Dallas point guard the chance he would need.

The result was a 22nd consecutive loss for the Kings in Dallas.

IMPORTANCE

Anything that keeps the encouraging start going in Dallas is important. It wasn’t against a top opponent — the Kings are tracking to the lottery and were playing the second night of a back-to-back — and it wasn’t as part of a stretch drive to keep a playoff spot. But another resilient moment in a season when many expected the Mavericks to fall off the radar is meaningful.

CELEBRATION

Try telling the Mavs the game wasn’t against a top opponent or that it wasn’t late in the season. They partied like it was April against the Warriors.

Williams, falling backward after the release, crashed into Kings coach George Karl, toppling Karl as Williams hit the floor on his back. his arms help up in celebration. The Mavericks on the court piled on top of Williams, and then the Mavericks charging from the bench at the other end did the same.

GRADE

It would have been a good night for Williams anyway. To have that kind of finish, taking out the Kings in general and literally taking out Karl, to create that kind of scrum on the court could end up being a season highlight for the Mavs. Williams had to work hard for the moment. He didn’t waste it. Three Horrys.

 

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Horry Scale: Raptors’ Joseph drains winning three-pointer

 

VIDEO: Cory Joseph nails game-winning three-pointer for Raptors in Washington.

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.

DIFFICULTY

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.

GAME SITUATION

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.

CELEBRATION

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.

GRADE

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.

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The Horry Scale: Vucevic Fires Off 2015-16 Season’s First For Magic

VIDEO: Vucevic wins it for Magic

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — According to the schedule, it was the 16th night of the 2015-16 NBA schedule, plenty of time for rip roaring slam dunks, long and wild 3-pointers and all sorts of other craziness. But those of us with a sense of the dramatic know the season doesn’t really start until the sharpshooter rings in at the buzzer.

We’re talking, of course, about The Horry Scale, that measuring stick for clutchness, that barometer of bombastic balling, that dagger falling out of the sky delight that brings a worldwide community leaping up off the sofas and out of the La-Z-Boys to celebrate in joyous glee.

Well, the truth is that it might only have been friends and families of the participants who were tuned in on LeaguePass Wednesday night to see Nic Vucevic work his magic for the Magic.  And, of course, it happened at the expense of the hapless, luckless Lakers.

Before we go any farther, what is the Horry Scale? For those newbies, 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.

DIFFICULTY

If you’re going to get off a last-second shot, it makes sense to get it to a big man who can get the clearest look at the basket.  So Orlando’s Tobias Harris pulled the trigger on a clean inbounds pass to 7-foot Vucevic, who turned and arced an 18-foot turnaround over Roy Hibbert that splashed into nothing but the bottom of the net to give the Magic a 101-99 win.

GAME SITUATION

It looked like the Lakers — playing for the second straight night without Kobe Bryant (sore back) — might have pulled this one out on their final possession.  That’s when Lou Williams fired up a jumper that looked like it might have grazed the rim.  Hibbert grabbed the rebound and deposited into the hoop with 0.8 seconds showing on the clock.  But a replay review instead ruled that Williams missed the rim entirely and the Magic were given the ball and their chance with the score tied at 99-all.

IMPORTANCE

It wasn’t exactly dripping with playoff drama.  We’re talking about a Magic team that is bumping along at 3-5 on the season and the 1-6 Lakers searching for just their second win.

CELEBRATION

Vucevic, who was back in the lineup after a three-game absence, knew it was good as soon as the ball left his hand, turned and raced down the court, where he got a hug from assist man Harris and then was mobbed by his teammates.  The finish was more notable for the glum look on the faces of the Lakers, who keep wondering what misfortune will strike them next.

GRADE

We’ve got to admit, we’d have liked a game with a bit more significance — or at least one team with a winning record — for the first Horry Scale appearance.  But more than two weeks, it was good to see somebody, anybody, provide the last-second lightning that makes all of the TV highlight shows.  It wasn’t a shot that involved mind-boggling acrobatics.  Just a nicely-executed inbounds pass and a dagger-in-the-heart jumper from a big man who can shoot the ball.  We can’t get too excited over mid-week win in a game between a couple of bottom-feeders. So we’re giving this one two Horrys and leaving room for plenty of improvement and much more significance in the coming months.

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Horry Scale: LeBron delivers in Chicago


VIDEO: LeBron nails Taco Bell Buzzer Beater

It was reminiscent of the finish to Game 2 of the 2009 conference finals. The Cavs were in a desperate situation, in danger of facing a two-game deficit.

That game was in Cleveland, the Cavs were down two points, and there was 1.0 seconds on the clock. But the results, the shots were very similar.

LeBron James hit his third game-winning buzzer beater in the playoffs on Sunday, lifting the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 86-84 victory over the Chicago Bulls in Game 4 of the conference semifinals.

The Cavs passed their first big test of the second LeBron era. They were down 2-1 in the series. They were down 11 points late in the third quarter. Kyrie Irving was dealing with a foot injury and James himself turned his ankle midway through the third.

But they came back with some big shots from J.R. Smith and strong defense in the final period. And James provided the finishing touches on Cleveland’s biggest win of the season.

DIFFICULTY

A little nudge from James knocked Jimmy Butler off-balance, and he wasn’t able to close fast enough. James’ momentum was taking him toward the Bulls’ bench, but the space Butler provided (and the lack of a second defender) allowed him to square his shoulders and keep his balance, with his toes on the 3-point line. Of the three buzzer beaters we’ve seen in the last three days, it was the easiest shot.

GAME SITUATION

After coming back from 11 down, the Cavs blew a five-point lead in less than 30 seconds, thanks in part to James’ eighth turnover of the afternoon, an offensive foul with 14.3 seconds left.

Still, if the shot misses, they have another chance to redeem themselves in overtime.

IMPORTANCE

The playoffs appear to be wide open, especially in the Eastern Conference. If the Cavs lose this game, they’re in a situation – down 3-1 – that few teams have come back from.

But the win gives them back home-court advantage. Since Jan. 19, they’re 23-2 in Cleveland, where they will play Game 5 and 7 (if necessary).

CELEBRATION

A clumsy mob that spilled onto the scorer’s table.

GRADE

It’s the playoffs. It’s two teams that have a good shot of reaching The Finals if they get through this series. It was a high-leverage game. Five Horrys.

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Horry Scale: The whole ‘Truth’


VIDEO: Paul Pierce gives the whole “Truth” with game-winning basket.

Did you call bank? Paul Pierce was asked after putting the dagger in the Hawks.

“I called game,” he responded.

Perfect. And clutch. And another part of his Hall of Fame legacy. And a funny summation.

Pierce hitting the 21 footer — off glass — to give the Wizards a 103-101 win Saturday in Washington and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals was everything, delivering in the moment and also the emotional boost of a close victory, or any victory, with All-Star John Wall sidelined by a broken left hand.

Pierce supplying a much-needed veteran presence in the wake of the emotional hit of losing Wall would have been plenty. It really would have been a big contribution as the Hawks charged back from a 21-point deficit with about 10 minutes to play. The shot, though, was a highlight moment even for a player who has had so many through the years.

DIFFICULTY

It wasn’t just a clutch shot. It was a tough shot, slightly fading away and under defensive pressure from Dennis Schroder. Pierce was near the top of the free-throw circle, took a one-bounce dribble to his left and elevated with the additional clearance at 6 foot 7 over the 6-1 Schroder. Kent Bazemore came over for the double team, but it was too late. The ball was away.

GAME SITUATION

Pierce shouldn’t have been needed to play the hero. The Wizards were up 21 early in the fourth quarter, until the Hawks went on a 17-0 run to close within three points with about 3 1/2 minutes remaining. When Mike Muscala connected from behind the arc with 14.1 seconds left, Atlanta had erased the entire deficit. It was 101-101, setting the stage for Pierce.

IMPORTANCE

Rhetorical question, right?

CELEBRATION

Pierce’s momentum took him backward and to the court, where he stayed, on his back with his arms up and outstretched. Bradley Beal, the first teammate to get there, stood over Pierce and delivered a series of soft punches to the gut and chest — right, left, right, left, right. The other Wizards charged over to mob him, including Wall in suit and tie, as the crowd exploded in delight. The shot was the thing, but high marks for the reaction as well.

GRADE

Five Horrys, because five is the limit. This should break the scale, though. Five isn’t enough. Ten wouldn’t be enough. Maybe 34 would be.

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Horry Scale: Rose gives Cavs a thorn


VIDEO: Derrick Rose opens the bank as three-pointer at buzzer gives Bulls victory.

Is it OK to say this was the sweetest moment for Derrick Rose since 2011? Yes, it appears so, because what could be more uplifting to a player who’s been to injury hell and back (three times) than sending a sucker punch to LeBron James and the Cavs here in what could be a tightly-contest second-round playoff series?

Over the last few years it has become customary, even tired, to proclaim “He’s Back!” whenever Rose did anything that remotely resembled his MVP season. To be honest, Rose will never be “back” until he displays the consistency of that season, but let’s put that aside for a moment. On this very play, with this very shot, he was “back” for a fleeting microsecond, even if the three-point buzzer beater than put the Bulls up 2-1 in the series required a kiss from the basketball Gods to bank off the glass.

As it is, Rose is being celebrated today in the same city that heckled him during his clumsy comeback from knee surgery a few years ago. Good for him, because if anyone needed a lift from a crazed crowd and a game-winning shot, it’s Rose.

DIFFICULTY

Well, when you’re running to your right and need to shoot over a defender who has the wingspan of a prehistoric bird, then yeah, this shot was a bit tricky to pull off.

Rose took an in-bounds pass with three seconds left and after shaking free of Iman Shumpert, found Tristan Thompson flying in his grill. Of course, with time of the essence, there really wasn’t any time to think. And maybe that was a good thing. Three times on the Bulls’ previous four possessions, Rose missed one of two free throws and went 0-for-2 on isolation plays. This time, Rose simply launched it and didn’t call bank.

GAME SITUATION

Before Rose’s game winner, the Bulls were stunned by a desperate three-pointer by J.R. Smith just seconds earlier. In a bit of bad decision-making by the Bulls and coach Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls refused to foul Smith while leading by three. In that situation, it’s better to send a player to the free throw line than risk having him tie the game, and the Bulls lost that gamble.

With Pau Gasol on the bench dealing with an injured hamstring, the Bulls couldn’t afford to play into overtime, not against LeBron. Speaking of whom, he poked the ball away from Rose on the very next play. Lucky for LeBron, he wasn’t called for a foul. And lucky for Rose, the ball went out of bounds, giving the Bulls another shot with three seconds left.

IMPORTANCE

Bulls are up 2-1 in the best of seven. And the next game’s at the United Center on Sunday. C’mon.

CELEBRATION

Rose was rather subdued, as though he knew a 30-foot bank shot was going in all the way. Anyway, he was immediately lifted into the air by Joakim Noah, who sprinted off the bench, and soon mobbed by teammates. Of course, the UC went nuts, as it should, given that all of Chicago has been waiting to see something like this from Rose for nearly four years. Wish granted. If the Bulls win this series, don’t you think this shot will be raised as one of the reasons why?

GRADE

Five Horrys, because of the circumstances: Rose’s continued comeback from injuries, it was a playoff game, LeBron was on the floor, and the ball was banked in. Yes, this is the max number of Horrys, but just the same, this isn’t some game in February. Please, after all he’s been through, don’t you think Rose should get lots of Horry love?

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Horry Scale: Bayless keeps Bucks alive


VIDEO: Bucks’ guard Jerryd Bayless’ layup keeps Milwaukee’s season alive.

Jerryd Bayless headed to the sideline as if he hit a shot to end the first quarter, of a game in January, against a lottery team. He basically calmly walked off.

But that smile. It was bigger than the arena, a louder statement than the home crowd, more of a barometer of the new mood among the Bucks than the updated playoff standings. That smile, the one a lot of people in Wisconsin now have.

Jared Dudley made the great pass, Bayless made the twisting layup at the buzzer, and the Bucks had finally pushed through against the Bulls, going from the double-overtime loss on Thursday and the 0-3 deficit in the best-of-seven series to the 92-90 victory Saturday in Milwaukee.

DIFFICULTY

For Bayless? Not much. He had to catch the ball going away from the basket and turn slightly to flip the ball in with his right hand while taking a slight hit from defender Derrick Rose.

The pass was the hard part. Throwing the ball in from the left sideline, Dudley completed a perfect pass, through Joakim Noah applying pressure on Dudley and through Rose staying close to Bayless. The pass could not have been better.

GAME SITUATION

Rose’s eighth turnover of the day — a day he probably never forgets — gave the Bucks the ball with 1.3 seconds remaining in a 90-90 game. Coach Jason Kidd called one timeout, a full. Then another, a 20.

And the series situation. Milwaukee had already lost in overtime in the series, two days before, and likely would have had another extra period if it didn’t convert on this last try. Lose this one as well and the season’s over.

IMPORTANCE

C’mon.

CELEBRATION

It was a great scene. Bayless may have been calm as he walked to the sideline, but once there, he was mobbed by teammates as the building went wild, at least the people who hadn’t made the drive from Chicago to watch. Even the scene looked good from overhead, with many Bucks fans waving the white T-shirts left on the seats before the game.

GRADE

Five Horrys, and only because that’s the limit. A basket to win a playoff game, against a neighborhood rival, with the possibility of elimination looming — that easily deserves the max.

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Horry Scale: Smart lifts Celtics


VIDEO:  Smart grabs a falling Thomas pass to score game-winning basket in critical victory.

On the road? Against a good team? On a basket by Marcus Smart? All on the second night of a back-to-back?

Of all the heroes in all the situations in all the places, it would have taken a lot of searching to find a more improbable outcome than Celtics 117, Raptors 116 in overtime Saturday night in Toronto, a huge development in Boston’s attempt to keep its grip on the final playoff spot as the least bad team among the Eastern Conference hopefuls for No. 8.

Smart made six of nine attempts on the night, including the buzzer-beating layup, but after shooting 35.4 percent in February and 32.9 percent in March. His rookie season was ending badly, even as Boston continued to give him big minutes. And then this.

DIFFICULTY

It was harder than it should have been. Smart was open under the basket, on the right side of the lane, thanks to Isaiah Thomas drawing the defense as he blew down the left side, but the dish-off was a little high. Smart grabbed it with his right hand, with no Raptor closer than a couple steps. Then he made an awkward plant to go up. At least the release was clean.

GAME SITUATION

The Raptors led 116-115 on a Lou Williams three-pointer with four seconds left. The Celtics called timeout and advanced the ball to halfcourt. Thomas was near the free throw line at the other end when the referee gave the ball to Evan Turner on the sideline. Advantage: Celtics.

Thomas, fast enough without a head start, had built to lift-off speed by the time he took the pass from Turner about 40 feet from the basket, then went through the Toronto defense. He created the opportunity that Smart finished.

IMPORTANCE

Large. Everything was a challenge except for the distance of the winning shot – the schedule, the location, the opponent. There has to be a special level of gratification. The importance in the standings is obvious. If the Celtics make the playoffs, this will be one of the nights that made it happen.

CELEBRATION

Eh. Several Celtics charged off the bench to embrace Smart. He got some hugs and smacks on top of his head, but there was no wild party.

GRADE

The Celtics get marked down only because the win came on a wide-open layup, without a higher degree of difficulty beyond catching the ball. Everything else was big, though, from the situation and the importance to Thomas’ work. Three Horrys.

 

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Horry scale: Middleton ends Bucks’ skid


VIDEO: Middleton’s 3-pointer at buzzer seals Bucks’ comeback victory

by Scott Howard-Cooper

Just being in the game was accomplishment enough for the Bucks. Just getting the final shot was improbable enough for Khris Middleton.

But then for Milwaukee to come from 16 points down with 9:53 remaining Tuesday night and from 12 behind with five minutes left to beat the Heat 89-88? For Middleton to go from missing six of seven shots behind the arc and 12 of 16 overall to the hero with the three-pointer at the buzzer? The finish was nothing short of unreal.

Given the jerking change of direction in the game, the potential long-term implications in the standings, the unlikely star of the night and the emotional value for a team that would treasure so much as an uneventful win, it would be hard to find many bigger March moments anywhere in the league.

DIFFICULTY

It had that too. Middleton was standing at the arc, a few feet left of straightaway, so he was able to have his feet set. What he wasn’t able to get was an easy look. He had to hurry to beat the clock. He had a defender charging at him, right arm extended for the block.

The only easy part — of the entire possession, actually — was the decision to shoot. With the game an instant away from ending in a Miami victory, Middleton had no choice. The result was near-perfect. The ball barely touched back rim before going down without a fight.

GAME SITUATION

It took Milwaukee outscoring Miami 21-9 in the fourth quarter just to get the Bucks within 88-86 with a final chance off a jump ball with 9.8 seconds remaining at the free-throw line close to the basket where the Heat were defending. It had taken a lot of uphill climbing just to get in position to complete the comeback. And then it took more.

Jerryd Bayless, a a 6-3 guard, won the tip against 6-10 Michael Beasley, knocking the ball backward to Middleton. Bayless’ drove down the right side of the lane and missed a layup amid a crowd of Heat defenders with about five seconds left. Milwaukee’s Zaza Pachulia saved the ball as it was going over the baseline, twisting his body back toward the court and flinging a two-hand pass in the direction of the top of the key. Middleton controlled the ball and fired from 24 feet out with about five-tenths of a seconds to go.

IMPORTANCE

The Bucks were on a six-game losing streak and staring straight at No. 7. They were sinking in the Eastern Conference standings, to where they were beginning to get a decent view of the lottery, and Miami was one of the teams putting pressure on them from behind. A lot of the good of 2014-15 was unraveling.

To say Tuesday night was an important win, then, doesn’t begin to cover it. Huge is more like it. If the shot turns out to be the launching pad to a Milwaukee recovery and the Bucks find solid footing again to reach the playoffs, it becomes their regular-season highlight.

CELEBRATION

A finish like that deserved a reaction like that. Middleton turned toward the other basket and ran into the arms of teammates who had come off the bench. The Bucks who had been near the other end rushed down to join the party. Middleton quickly disappeared under the madness of a gang tackle near one of the sidelines, at the feet of fans. Fun had broken out again in Milwaukee.

GRADE

Crazy finish, tough shot, playoff implications, bedlam on the court in all the right ways — the Bucks delivered everything. It’s still only March and not the very end of the regular season, but skidding Milwaukee needed that in a big way. Four Horrys.

 

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