The Horry scale

Horry Scale: Solomon is King of the Hill


VIDEO: Solomon Hill’s tip-in at the buzzer puts Pacers over Hornets 88-86

Lance Stephenson made his return to Indianapolis on Wednesday and of course Lance Stephenson’s replacement made the biggest splash of the night. Yes, of course.

In the past, the theatrics for the Pacers, both good and bad, were left to Lance, who then bolted for the Hornets last summer for reasons that still aren’t particularly clear-cut. Meanwhile, Solomon Hill was mainly relegated to bench ornament last season, biding his time, wondering if he could ease the burden, or erase it completely, of Stephenson’s departure. For all of his nuttiness, Stephenson was a dogged player on both ends of the floor who was a valuable chip for a Pacer team that simply couldn’t get beyond LeBron James and the Heat.

Anyway … Stephenson returned to Indy to a mixed reception (booed whenever he touched the ball after a decent greeting), delivered an even performance, and then watched as his night was stolen by Solomon. We say “stolen” because up until the last few seconds, Solomon was rather tame (six points, five rebounds, 38 minutes). And then he gave himself the honor of landing on the Horry Scale, named after the great last-second shot artist Robert Horry, who helped three different teams win seven titles by coming up clutch when asked.

Keep in mind that the Horry Scale measures more than just the game-winning basket. Other factors are weighed that make the buzzer-beater truly epic, or merely run-of-the-mill. Although I think we can all agree that no buzzer-beater is routine. That said, let’s study the scale of Solomon’s biggest moment in the NBA.

DIFFICULTY: This was a fluke mixed with flair, because the play wasn’t designed for Solomon, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time, like Lorenzo Charles when NC State upset Houston. We should point out two things here: The hero was supposed to be Rodney Stuckey, who isolated on Stephenson and totally lost Lance on a step-back … only to launch an air ball. When the ball approaches the rim but doesn’t touch it, some players simply watch the flight. Others react to it. That’s what Solomon did, helped in part by his angle on the play. He was being boxed out rather effectively by Gerald Henderson and found himself under the basket, which gave him a solid vantage point. Here’s where the poetry came into play: Solomon reached, grabbed the air ball with his back to the rim, and flipped it over his head. The ball hung for a split-second on the flat part of the rim before falling through. Look, maybe he misses that shot 6 out of 10 times. This wasn’t one of them.

GAME SITUATION: The Pacers were down 18 early, but after that, the game was tight. What’s really interesting is the Pacers are really flying without a parachute in these situations. All of their proven game-saviors are either gone (Stephenson) or injured and sitting (Pauk George, David West, George Hill). Seriously, who deserves to have his number called in these situations? This is where the Pacers learn something about players who, in the past, were either on the bench or setting picks for the go-to guys mentioned above. Stuckey had moments in Detroit, but not many of them. If anything, the Pacers have been getting some good play from Donald Sloan, and yet this time they went to Stuckey and got Luck-ey. (OK, I’ll stop now.)

IMPORTANCE: This was a pick-me-upper for the Pacers, who understandably and expectedly are struggling to score points and win games without Stephenson and Paul George. Just as well, the Hornets have lost three straight and are reeling since Kemba Walker opened the season in thrilling fashion with a pair of buzzer-beaters himself (end of regulation, then OT) against the Bucks. They’ve gone 3-8 since. Can you imagine the reaction had Stephenson, and not Solomon, put himself on the Horry Scale?

CELEBRATION: The Pacers haven’t given the home crowd much reason to cheer this season, but they did beat Utah (and Butler boy Gordon Hayward) at Bankers Life and beating Stephenson in his return would’ve been worth two victories, in a sense. The building spring to life when Hill’s basket fell through, but beyond that, everyone knew it was one mediocre team beating another.

GRADE: Hill is averaging 12.6 points and 6 rebounds which is very acceptable considering the tough spot in which he was placed. He’s not going to be Stephenson and certainly not Paul George but in a pinch, he’ll do for now. He gets both hustle points and style points for not giving up on the play and also the backflip. That said, this game wasn’t particularly well-played nor did it carry any significance other than Lance. Even Hill was understated in the aftermath. “If it was like the Finals, I probably would’ve run around the building with my shirt off. But it’s a regular season game and we got another one coming up.” So we give it three Horrys, and there’s no shame in that.

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Horry Scale: Trey Day


VIDEO: Burke GWBB

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The Knicks finally scored 100 points in a game this season. Unfortunately for them, Trey Burke and the Jazz weren’t quite finished.

Tonight’s Jazz/Knicks game presented two teams with similar journeys ahead of them. The Jazz have a young roster with a young coach and expectations bubbling. The Knicks have a superstar forward (Carmelo Anthony) and president (Phil Jackson) but have a way to go as they implement the triangle offense.

The Knicks entered the night having lost six straight, for a 2-7 record, and had yet to score 100 points in a game this season. The Jazz had a similarly sub-par record, coming in at 3-6, and in the midst of a five-game road trip. All of which culminated in tonight’s big finish by Burke.

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 last season, 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 inbound play was terrific. Basically, everything matters.

Let’s get to the game-winner…

DIFFICULTY
With 2.3 seconds left on the clock, the Jazz didn’t have to rely on a catch-and-shoot. Two-plus seconds is enough time for at least a dribble, maybe even a pass.

But it looked as if the play wasn’t even drawn up for Burke to get the shot. Burke began in the far corner and set a screen for Gordon Hayward, who already had 33 points on the night. Hayward popped to the top of the key and looked to receive a pass. But Knicks forward Quincy Acy denied the look to Hayward, just as Burke flashed to the ball around the free throw line. Burke caught the ball, dribbled left into the corner, and fired up a fadeaway jumper over J.R. Smith, who was all over Burke and contested the shot well. But Burke cleared just enough space with a step-back move to release the jumper, and he drilled the shot as the buzzer was ringing.

Smith actually defended fine on the play — he went under three separate screens and stuck to Burke on the shot. Burke had to make a perfect play just to clear room for the shot. And Burke played it perfectly.

GAME SITUATION
After squandering a last-second attempt earlier in the week, when J.R. Smith eschewed a pass to Carmelo Anthony to fire up a three, tonight the Knicks cleared out for Anthony, who banked in a three to tie the game at 100 with 2.3 left. Anthony finished with 46 points for the Knicks, who were without Amar’e Stoudemire, and Anthony was brilliant all night.

But Utah called a timeout after Anthony leveled the game and calmly came up with the play. A shoutout to Jazz coach Quin Snyder, who came up with a play that had multiple options; and a shoutout to inbound passer Joe Ingles, who calmly went to Burke after not being able to get the ball to Hayward.

IMPORTANCE
It was big, for both teams. Yes, we’re still early in the season, but after losing six straight, the Knicks needed a win, especially at home. And Melo had put them on his back and carried them throughout the game.

The Jazz entered this season in rebuilding mode, and though they’re below .500, they’ve looked promising as they’ve tried to implement Snyder’s pace and space offense. Also, it’s worth noting that this is already Utah’s second appearance on the Horry Scale this season. So not only are they competing, but they’re giving themselves opportunities to win games (and taking advantage of those opportunities).

CELEBRATION
It was fortuitous that Burke popped the shot directly in front of the Utah bench. Because as soon as the shot went in, he was swarmed by his teammates. The Jazz couldn’t give an all-out celebration because they were on the road, so they didn’t get that awesome crowd reaction like they did at home against Cleveland. Still, the team huddled around Burke and let him have it (including a towel over the head) while Smith looked up in disbelief to check the replay.

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Also, we can’t ignore Carmelo’s reaction. After such a big game, all he could do was grimace with the realization that better days are ahead. Hopefully sooner than later.

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GRADE
It was a great play, a great shot, and an important result for a team that needed a win. But being pragmatic, this was a regular season game between two teams under .500. And considering we gave Hayward’s previous Horry Scale entry rated four Horrys, I don’t feel like this one quite matches that one, particularly on the celebration matrix. So I’m giving Trey Burke’s game winner 3 Horrys.

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What say you? How many Horrys would you give Trey Burke’s GWBB?

Horry Scale: Lee saves Grizzlies


VIDEO: Courtney Lee reverses a lay-in off an inbounds pass at the buzzer to defeat the Kings

Courtney Lee’s mental clock must tick smooth like a Rolex … a real one!

Because the Memphis Grizzlies swingman didn’t miss a beat with his buzzer-beating heroics in his team’s epic 111-110 comeback win over the Sacramento Kings Thursday night at the FedEx Forum.

Lee’s beautifully-timed work not only secured the Grizzlies’ rally from a 22-point first quarter deficit that sent fans onto Beale Street feeling giddy about their Grizzlies, it also landed him a prime position on the Horry Scale.

Welcome, Courtney Lee, to the pantheon of clutch shot-makers who have helped make the modern highlight (and the game-winning bucket) the staple it has become in our daily sports diet.

Around here, such plays are evaluated according to difficulty, game situation, importance and celebration. Then they get an overall grade, represented with 1-5 Robert Horry stars, in honor of the vagabond marksman who helped the Rockets (two), Lakers (three) and Spurs (two) capture seven titles in his years with them.

Again, the Horry Scale does not measure only a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a GWBB. 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, the total package

DIFFICULTY

Catch and shoot. It was the only option with so little time (:00.3 to be exact) on the clock. Well, try catching it under the basket and getting a reverse layup to go in over your head with the game on the line. It helped that the Kings fell for each and every jab step and head fake from each and every Grizzlies player, thus freeing Lee up to get to his spot unabated for the game-winning shot attempt.The catch and shoot part of it all was on Lee, and that was plenty difficult, considering the body contortion necessary tor completion of the play. The getting there, however, was courtesy of the Kings … who are clearly in a giving mood this week. This was their second straight come-from-ahead-loss of the week. They led Dallas by 18 points after the first quarter Tuesday and wound up losing 106-98. They are the first team in NBA history to lose back-to-back games that they led by 18 or more points in the first quarter.

GAME SITUATION

Perhaps everyone was still in shock that the Grizzlies had come all the way back. How else do you explain them having those precious .3 seconds to work with on a do-or-die shot? If Vince Carter’s pass is off every so slightly, it’s game over. If a defender knocks Lee off course as he makes his break to the basket, there’s no way he gets his hands on the ball and gets that shot off in time. The play worked in real time exactly the way Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger scribbled it up on the whiteboard in the huddle. Marc Gasol set the perfect screen on Darren Collison. When Jason Thompson and Collison crashed into each other trying to recover, it was already too late. Lee gathered himself and was in the air with his arms outstretched. He grabbed the ball and kissed it off the glass all in the same motion. Game over.

IMPORTANCE

For a Grizzlies team trying to stay atop of and set the pace in the Western Conference standings, stealing this game was huge. No team with designs on a top four seed in the playoff chase can afford to let a game like this slip away. Coming all the way back and not finishing the deal would have been a crusher.

CELEBRATION

It’s hard to tell if the look of disbelief on Lee’s face was based on his acrobatic layup going in ahead of the final buzzer or because he got completely wide open on the play. The crowd, already on its feet, went bonkers as the ball went off the glass and through the net. Lee made the rounds from the corner of the floor all the way to the Grizzlies bench, hopping in and out of the arms of his teammates along the way. It wasn’t the nifty leap onto the the scorers table we saw from Lance Stephenson. Lee had to get to the bench and watch the review on the jumbotron. He and Tayshaun Prince looked skyward and Lee raised both hands like a boxer who had just heard his name called as the winner.

GRADE

Courtney Lee is an unlikely hero on a Grizzlies team with several more high-profile options. It’s a testament to this Grizzlies team that no one minds sharing the glory. It could have just as easily been Tony Allen or even Zach Randolph on the receiving end of that pass from Carter…

Given the early deficit, the comeback and the extreme degree of difficulty on that final play, the catch and the kiss … off the glass, it’s hard to give anything high marks to Lee and the Grizzlies for a game-winning play that makes its namesake proud. Give it four Horrys.
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Horry Scale: Lance lifts Hornets


VIDEO: Stephenson sinks Hawks at buzzer in 2 OTs

Maybe Kent Bazemore should have blown in Lance Stephenson‘s ear.

That tactic, innovated by Stephenson against LeBron James in last spring’s Eastern Conference finals, might have been enough to throw off Stephenson’s rhythm or aim when he launched his 33-foot desperation heave with time running out in the second overtime Friday night in Charlotte.

Then again, why do anything to wake or rile up the Hornets’ new shooting guard? Stephenson already had gone 0-for-7 from outside the arc in 2014-15 and generally was struggling offensively since joining Charlotte from Indiana as a prized, and surprising, free-agent acquisition in July.

In the end, all Bazemore could do, like the rest of the Atlanta Hawks, was watch in disappointment and extreme fatigue as Stephenson’s hoist banged off the glass and through the rim at the horn. The shot gave Charlotte a 122-119 victory and earned Stephenson a spot not just in the hearts of his new city’s fans but on the Horry Scale.

That’s right, with his game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB), Stephenson shook off a bad two weeks to gain acclaim on this blog’s tribute to one of the NBA’s all-time clutch shooters. Such moments, the lifeblood of NBA excitement whether they occur in June or October, are evaluated according to difficulty, game situation, importance and celebration. Then they get an overall grade, represented with 1-5 Robert Horry stars, in honor of the vagabond marksman who helped the Rockets (two), Lakers (three) and Spurs (two) capture seven titles in his years with them.

We reiterate, the Horry Scale does not measure only a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a GWBB. 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, the total package

DIFFICULTY

Thirty-three feet – the official distance listed in the NBA’s official gamebook afterward – ain’t easy. But there wasn’t anything outrageously athletic or instinctive required here. Stephenson passed the ball inbounds to Marvin Williams near the top of the arc, then ran to him to take the handoff. Kyle Korver, Stephenson’s man, switched off and stuck with Williams, while Bazemore – forced to scramble to the perimeter in chase of Williams after big Paul Millsap switched onto little Kemba Walker – got there a tick too late.

Stephenson, a bundle of raw skills, rose up, kicked his feet behind him and flicked his shot as if calling the bank all along. It caromed in as Bazemore’s right arm, raised to contest but too late and too far, stayed in the air as the gym erupted.

GAME SITUATION

Everybody in the joint – players, coaches, referees, fans – was nearing the end of his or her 58th minute of basketball. They all were ready to go home, with only the Hawks’ traveling party resistant to the idea of it ending right there, right then. After all, they’d had their own chance to win it with 2.7 seconds left, except that Korver got called for an illegal screen as Atlanta inbounded, flipping the script in Charlotte’s favor.

Walker had missed a chance for his own GWBB at the end of the first overtime, rushing across midcourt and firing a long 3-pointer that wasn’t close. Late in the second OT, he never got the ball to the rim, firing it into Al Horford‘s arm pit in a botched move that turned out well; it was ruled a shot-clock violation, allowing first Atlanta (Korver’s bad screen) and then Charlotte again to try for heroics. Stephenson was the one who snagged some.

IMPORTANCE

A key clash in the Southeast Division? That didn’t involve the 2010-2014 Miami Heat? Guess we’d better get used to it. Besides, Charlotte had dropped its last six home games against Atlanta and was eager to assert itself in the division, backing up its victory Wednesday over the Heat.

CELEBRATION

Never underestimate Stephenson’s knack for the grand gesture, the look-at-me grab of the spotlight. As soon as he hit his banked 3-pointer, Stephenson scowled, shrugged off the grabs and slaps of teammates and vaulted onto the scorer’s table. He beat on his chest and mouthed all sorts of adrenaline-fueled invective as the other Hornets hauled him back down to the court and mobbed him.

A bonus came from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist‘s smiling mug – with gauze shoved up both nostrils. Earlier, he had gotten whacked in the nose when he ran smack into a Horford pick. He had been bloody and angry in that moment, but he was a happy Hornet chasing after Stephenson when it ended.

GRADE

Stephenson needed this. The Hornets, who had gambled on the mercurial Pacers guard when he hit free agency without all that much clamor in the market, needed it too. Though he had averaged 10 rebounds and 5.6 assists to rank among the league leaders in both categories through his first five games, Stephenson was sputtering along at 6.6 points while shooting 12-of-45 to that point. He had scored in double figures, reaching 14, only once.

This time, Stephenson finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while logging 47:11 in his busiest work night since signing with Charlotte. Had his offensive troubles continued, NBA media surely would have revved up the what’s-wrong-with-Lance angles and perhaps plunged Stephenson into an even greater funk. So the timing of this, for getting him on track in what the Hornets intend to be a meaningful season, hardly could have been better. Give it four Horrys.

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Horry Scale: Hayward shocks Cavs


VIDEO: Gordon Hayward’s game-winning buzzer-beater

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — When it rains, it pours. We waited more than a week into the season to get our first taste of last-second lusciousness — and suddenly we have an embarrassment of riches.

Tobias Harris tickled our fancy first in Philly. But it was most definitely Gordon Hayward who sent an electric shock from Salt Lake City all the way into the heart of Cleveland with his theatrics by putting his thumb down heavily on the Horry Scale.

One minute it seemed LeBron James was going to pull the rug out from under all those excited fans at EnergySolutions Arena, not to mention the Jazz, with some clutch play of his own. A clutch corner 3 and then three free throws inside the final 14 seconds.

But in the next minute LeBron was taking LeTumble to the floor and Hayward stepped into the hero’s role with a 23-footer as time expired to give the Jazz a roaring 102-100 win.

Since it’s still opening night in Horry World, let’s repeat the ground rules. The Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation, importance and celebration.  Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the master of avoiding last-second disaster.

Remember, 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, the whole magilla.

DIFFICULTY

It was the kind of shot Hayward probably made a zillion times in the back yard while growing up in Indianapolis and he definitely made his share in the clutch during a celebrated career at Butler. But the truth is they’ve been hard to come by in four seasons in the NBA. Last season was his first in the starring role and he struggled, shooting just 41 percent from the field.  That made a lot of Jazz fans struggle to accept that four-year, $63 million contract Hayward signed last summer after getting a free-agent offer sheet from the Hornets.

But here was Hayward in all his glory, doing it against the best player in the game. He took the inbounds pass from Joe Ingles at the top of the key and moved immediately to his right when LeBron slipped to the floor after making contact with Derrick Favors.  It was the opening Hayward needed, taking two dribbles and letting fly before the Cavs’ defense could recover, burying the step-back fallaway over the desperately reaching arm of Tristan Thompson.

GAME SITUATION

It was a game that might have stuck in the Jazz’ craw past Thanksgiving and Christmas if they had let it slip away. Utah held a 96-90 with 1:29 left to play and was still on top 98-94 with 17.9 seconds to go.  But LeBron is LeBron and, on a night when he finished with 31 points, he was just really getting warmed up. First he drilled a trey from out of the left corner. Then after Alec Burks made two free throws for a 100-97 lead, the veteran James got Favors to go for a pump fake and leaned in himself to draw three free throws. He nonchalantly made them all to tie it up at 100-all.  That set the stage for Hayward and the ex-Butler Bulldog sank his teeth in to the bone. Tough spot, tough shot.

CELEBRATION

From the way the crowd reacted, the streamers fell from the ceiling and all of Hayward’s Jazz teammates went bonkers, this is what it might have been like in the 1998 NBA Finals — if Michael Jordan’s shot over Bryon Russell in Game 6 rimmed out. It was that kind of wild and crazy. Hayward himself was virtually speechless in a post-game TV interview.

GRADE

The bigger the profile of the opponent, the higher the score and there’s nobody bigger in the game these days than LeBron. Even if his getting-to-know-you Cavs have now sagged to a 1-3 start and are cranking up the sirens of early season overreaction-to make-your-ears-bleed level.  The Jazz, under rookie coach Quin Snyder, are a young team that needs confidence. And nobody needed a shot of adrenaline more than Hayward. This was Uma Thurman sitting bolt upright in “Pulp Fiction.”

I’m giving it four Horrys for all those reasons and also for sheer early-season fun.

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Horry Scale: Harris gets Magic’s 1st win


VIDEO: Harris’s game-winning buzzer-beater

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — According to the schedule, the official NBA season was already more than a week old coming into Wednesday night.  But those of us with the proverbial ice water in our veins and cooler hands than Luke know that the opera doesn’t really start until the sharpshooter slings.

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.

OK, so in this case it was the close friends and families of the Magic and Sixers.  But those who stayed to the end of what was a pretty darned entertaining game between a couple of teams still in search of their first win were rewarded by Tobias Harris.

Before we go any further, 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 GWBB. 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

On Day Nine of the 2014-15 season, we finally got our first Horry Scale entrant when Harris came off a double-screen to the right side of the floor, caught a nice feed from Evan Fournier and coolly rose up to nail a step-back 18-footer over the outstretched right hand of a just-too-late Luc Mbah a Moute.  Harris got a good look because after Fournier took the inbounds pass from Elfrid Payton, he let the play unfold and delivered right on time.  Harris caught the ball in rhythm and made a clutch-but-not-ridiculously-impossible shot.

GAME SITUATION

This was hardly Damian Lillard of the Trail Blazers making his 0.9 second special to close out a playoff series last May.  In fact, it was a battle of two dead-last, 0-for-the-season teams that were looking for any kind of reason to celebrate.  It came following a jumper from the top of the key by the Sixers’ Henry Sims tied the score at 89 with 4.6 seconds left to play.  Following a timeout, the Magic executed just the way coach Jacque Vaughn drew it up on the whiteboard, with Harris capping off an 18-point night by delivering the first victory of the season to Orlando (1-4).  The Sixers continue on slumping at 0-5.

CELEBRATION

Let’s just say the Magic bench looked a bit more relieved than delirious to finally get that first notch on its belt. But the guys eventually gave their main man Harris a nice little jumping-jack reception.

GRADE

Let’s face it, this game had little on the line except personal pride for both teams.  A middle of the week game between two sides with a combined 0-8 record at tipoff.  As we said earlier, it wasn’t a circus shot or even the kind where Harris barely had time to think.  It was cool and perfectly-executed.   A nice, overdue beginning, but we’re waiting for something a bit higher up the food chain to start dishing out the big scores.

I’m 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: 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…

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

Horry Scale: Vince’s victory

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com


VIDEO: VC GWBB

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last week we looked at the regular-season Horry Scale in full. Now, with the playoffs in full swing, it took just at a week to have our first postseason Horry Scale entry.

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.

Counting the regular season, this gives us a record-setting 18 Horry Scale entries this season. Let’s take a closer look at Vince Carter‘s game-winning three in Game 3 against San Antonio from earlier today…

DIFFICULTY
The corner three-pointer is supposedly the “easiest” three-pointer. Which doesn’t mean it’s easy, obviously. But it is a shorter shot than a straight-away or wing three. But what if you’re shooting from the corner and you’re fading away? And what if you’re covered as tightly as a smedium shirt by Manu Ginobili, with inches to get the shot off?

And what if you have less than 2 seconds left to release the shot? Well, add all those factors together and you’ve got a nearly impossible shot. Thing is, nobody told Vince Carter.

GAME SITUATION
PLAYOFFS! PLAYOFFS! The pressure doesn’t get any higher than in the postseason. As for the play itself, Dallas had the ball down two, after Ginobili scored on the other end to give San Antonio the lead. You’d think Dallas might go either Dirk or Monta, both of whom have made visits to the Horry Scale this season. You would, however, be wrong. Because, of course, the Mavs went to Vince Carter instead…

To get Vince open on the inbound play, the Mavs stacked up Vince, Dirk and Brandan Wright, then ran Monta Ellis off the triple screen. As Ellis popped free at the top, Vince ducked to the corner, caught, spun and drained the shot. Good defense from Manu, better shot by Vince. Catch, spin, shot, bottom. Win.

CELEBRATION
Probably the best all-around celebration of the season. This is partially a function of it happening in the playoffs, when the intensity is already ratcheted up high. When the shot went through, the American Airlines Center went crazy. The Mavs all surrounded Vince and celebrated with him. Two other things that we should note? Right in the center of the Mavs celebration was owner Mark Cuban

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Hey, if I owned an NBA team and we won a playoff game on a last-second shot, I’d be up in that celebration, too.

Also, as the Mavs celebrated, we got a quick glimpse at stoic Popovich

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:-|

GRADE
This is when it all counts. Heckuva situation, heckuva shot. As far as a grade, this one really had it all. I was thinking somewhere between 4 and 5 Horrys. And you know what? We’re going with 5 Horrys for this one, our first five Horry shot of the season…

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Now it’s your turn! How many Horrys would you give Vince Carter’s shot?

The Horry Scale Scale

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — By this point, you guys know the drill: When an NBA player hits a game-winning buzzer beater, we try to do a post as quickly as possible where we rate the play from one to five Horrys.

That’s the most simple way of explaining it. Here’s a more exact explainer: 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.

I took over The Horry Scale this season, and we’ve had a record-setting 17 entries. Seventeen! I’ve done my best to rate them — not just the shot, as I said, but the entire play, taking into account the celebration and the gravity of the situation. Basically, everything matters.

And here I should also say that I severely underrated Jeff Green‘s game winner that started the season. At the time I gave it three Horrys, because I wasn’t sure what to judge it against — there was no context. But the truth is, in retrospect, it was an incredible shot and a great moment, about as good as it gets in the regular season. Which I why I’m listing it first.

Anyway, with the regular season drawing to a close, we thought this was a great time to look back at every Horry Scale entry this season and rate them all. I’ve listed them in a loose order of greatness. You have an opinion, right? You can vote at the bottom…
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Horry Scale: CDR pays dividends

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com


VIDEO: CDR’s game-winner

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s been three weeks since we last fired up the Horry Scale, and in the time since, we’ve been mostly focused on the playoff race. As teams fought for position, somehow we had no game-winning buzzer-beaters that would require the Horry Scale to be utilized. Tonight that all ended, in the inked-out arms of Charlotte’s Chris Douglas-Roberts, as the Bobcats knocked off the Atlanta Hawks, 95-93.

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 17th Horry Scale entry of the season…

DIFFICULTY
A runner over two defenders? Tougher than it sounds. We should say here that the Hawks weren’t playing with a full deck, as they gave rotation members DeMarre Carroll, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap the night off. (The Bobcats also limited the minutes of their key players.) With playoff berths secure for both teams, they seemed content to let some of their bench players battle this one out. That said, CDR was well defended, and his shot flew high into the air before splashing through the net.

GAME SITUATION
Gary Neal and Sekou Smith’s favorite player, Luke Ridnour, carried the Bobcats throughout the fourth quarter. But the Hawks rallied late after a 5-0 run from Shelvin Mack brought them within two, and then a jumper from Lou Williams with 2.6 to play knotted the game at 93. With the game tied, the Bobcats inbounded the ball on the side in front of their basket. With Martin Sargent-lookalike Josh McRoberts inbounding, the Bobcats sent Ridnour and Chris Douglas-Roberts running in a wide arc, as Al Jefferson set a pick and Gary Neal flashed to the corner. The Hawks covered all of this very well, and none of the initial options were open. With maybe a second left to inbound the ball, Douglas-Roberts flashed from the basline to the top of the key, and momentarily lost defender Lou Williams on a brush screen from Jefferson. CDR drove left, pulled up from just inside the free-throw line, and knocked down the game-winner over a recovering Williams and help defender Mike Muscala, with no time to play.

CELEBRATION
The celebration was mostly subdued. Gary Neal wrapped Douglas-Roberts in a bear hug in front of the Hawks bench, and even Bobcats sideline reporter Stephanie Ready got in a high five. it felt like both teams were more concerned with the playoffs starting later this week.

GRADE
I’m going to give this one two Horrys. It was a nice shot, sure, but when one team doesn’t care enough to have their best players in the game, it detracts from the fun a bit. Not that this should matter to Charlotte — they wanted to win and ran the best play possible for them to win it. Heckuva shot from CDR, no doubt. But all in all, I’m going two stars …

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What say you? How many Horry’s would you give Chris Douglas-Roberts’ GWBB?