The Horry scale

Horry Scale: Hayward saves best for last


VIDEO: Gordon Hayward hits the fadeaway to cap off thrilling win

ALL BALL NERVE CENTERGordon Hayward delivered a reminder of the old philosophy that it doesn’t matter what you do early in a game as long as you deliver late.

The Jazz forward struggled to find a rhythm and the range on his shots all night long Tuesday at American Airlines Center in Dallas.  They came up long and short, bounced off the rim and clanked off the backboard.

Then teammate Rodney Hood dropped in the clutch 3-pointer at the end of regulation and Hayward had a fresh chance to start all over again in overtime.

And he jumped on it.

After shooting just 5-for-17 from the field in the first four quarters, Hayward couldn’t miss in OT.  He took three jumpers and made them all, including the pretty step-back, 20-footer from the baseline that beat the horn to give the Jazz their 121-119 win in overtime.

The shot gave the Jazz their seventh consecutive win and eighth in the last nine games, enabling Utah to jump ahead of Houston into the No. 7 slot in the Western Conference playoff race.

With big men Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors healthy and back in the lineup, it’s looking like the Jazz are ready to end their four-year playoff drought.

Remember, 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, named for 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 — Once Hayward rubbed off would-be defender Raymond Felton by coming through the lane to take Joe Ingles’ inbounds pass, he kept on circling to the left baseline, then rose up to get off a gorgeous step-back jumper over the outstretched arm of too-late 6-11 Zaza Pachulia that buried into the bottom of the net as the horn sounded.

GAME SITUATION —There’s always less pressure when the score is tied.  But considering how much difficulty Hayward had finding the basket for most of the night, it was impressive the way he took over in overtime and stroked the game-winning shot with such confidence right in from of his teammates on the visitors’ bench.

CELEBRATION — Hayward didn’t have far to go to get his pats on the back since his fallaway motion practically took him into the arms of his happy teammates.  First a hug from Trey Lyles, then Chris Johnson and Hood and as the Jazz made their way toward the locker room.

GRADE — Pachulia definitely gave Hayward just enough of an opening to get the shot off, but it wasn’t a wide open, size-it-up.  For a guy who struggled all night with his shot, it was a redemptive thing of beauty.  We’ve giving it two Horrys.

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Horry Scale: Johnson’s Dagger Wins It For Nets


VIDEO: Joe Johnson banks it in from beyond the arc as the buzzer sounds

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Admittedly, this was not the sort of scenario with which Robert Horry typically was associated. A fellow who became synonymous with clutch postseason shots would seem to have nothing in common with a pair of NBA cellar dwellers. The Denver Nuggets, in 11th place in the Western Conference, were in Brooklyn to take on the Nets, the East’s 14th place club. Combined, the team were 36 games under .500 when the night’s action began.

They remained 36 games underwater when the night was over (funny how the math works), but there was at least the drama of Joe Johnson, Brooklyn’s veteran sharpshooter, drilling a 3-pointer as time ran out to boost his club past Denver, 105-104.

That outcome might not have quickened Horry’s pulse the way it does when he polishes his seven NBA championship rings, but it did link him in another chapter of All-Ball’s Horry Scale. For those unfamiliar with the tradition, 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, whom our own Fran Blinebury refers to as “the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.”

We’ve already made clear this was a pretty humdrum matchup between teams stuck in standings mud, though the Nuggets remain a cut above the dismal Nets. So we’ll focus on the remaining categories:

DIFFICULTY: The clock was not Joe Johnson’s friend, and neither was his location on the floor. Only 1.3 seconds remained when teammate Merkel Brown inbounded the ball. Johnson had broke to the top from down in the paint, his defender, Denver’s Danilo Gallinari, trailing a step or so behind. Johnson took the pass, had time for a quick rhythm dribble and one step to his left, then launched from 27 feet. The ball banged in off the glass, a nice touch but hardly flukey. Johnson is a professional gunner, after all, and has hit similar shots hundreds of times, if not always as buzzer-beaters.

GAME SITUATION:  There had been some drama here late in an otherwise lackluster game. Brook Lopez‘s work under the rim had tied it 102-102 with more than a minute left, and then Denver missed two long jumpers while Brooklyn had only a turnover (nice steal by Nuggets guard Gary Harris) to show for most of the final minute. A 50-50 ball had forced a jump between Kenneth Faried and Lopez that the Nuggets won. Then, with 4.7 seconds left, Denver inbounded to Faried, who bolted toward the basket and launched a running jumper from about six feet. That had the Nuggets up 104-102 with first 0.9 seconds left, adjusted via replay to 1.3.

CELEBRATION: Johnson looked happy, a nice in-the-moment reaction to what generally has been a bummer season for the seven-time All-Star. He is shooting just 40 percent, is scoring at his lowest rate (12.4 points per 36 minutes) since his 2001-02 rookie season and has bandied about the “buyout” word as a way to exit the Nets gracefully while preserving what’s left on his $24.9 million salary for this season. There was an announced crowd of 13,043 on hand at Barclays Center to witness Johnson’s bank shot. And yes, that was Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov caught by the cameras, in a luxury suite high above the court, high-fiving his guests.

GRADE:  The shot was sweet in a season short on highlights for Brooklyn, but the blah backdrop – two teams headed nowhere, unrepresented in the All-Star Game next Sunday in Toronto – was too much to lift this one beyond two Horrys.

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Horry Scale: Vucevic’s fallaway lifts Magic over Hawks



VIDEO: Nikola Vucevic hits 18-footer at the buzzer

All Ball Nerve Center — Well, it’s been a weird season for the Orlando Magic. It actually began, coincidently, when they extended on offer sheet to free agent Paul Millsap, who decided to stay with the Hawks instead. OK, fine: Orlando decided to continue with the youth movement, with mixed results. And so the Magic had lost 15 of 17 games leading into their Super Bowl matinee with Millsap and the Hawks, who of course are headed in the opposite direction. In the last few days, with trade rumors fluttering about, Magic center  Nikola Vucevic implored the Magic to stay the course of their current rebuild, saying: “There’s no reason to think we need to change anything. We have to find a way within each other to get back to what we were doing early in the year.” With that, Vucevic chose the right time to make a statement, with a buzzer-beater against the Hawks which, of course, automatically made him a candidate for the Horry Scale, which measures the quality of buzzer beaters.

DIFFICULTY: This was pretty dicey. Vooch was set up nicely with 2.2 seconds left on an inbounds pass by Elfrid Payton, who was dazzling for the Magic in the fourth quarter, generating much of their offense almost by himself with passes or shots. Al Horford was tight on Vooch, who dribbled once and let it fly with a turnaround (jumping off the wrong leg) from about 20 feet. Can’t blame Horford’s D.

GAME SITUATION: The Magic blew a 14-point lead and went scoreless for almost four minutes, one reason why they’re on the outside looking in with regard to the playoff picture. Defense has been a big issue with this team; they surrendered 107 or more points in eight straight games. They’re a young team and did what young teams do, let leads escape them. But in the final seconds with the score tied, Evan Fournier, one of the symbols of the Magic’s decent start to the season, grabbed a loose ball which triggered a timeout, which in turn triggered Vooch’s big shot.

CELEBRATION: Well, Vucevic had the good sense to hit the game-winner from in front of the Magic bench. One of the first guys to hug him was Magic assistant coach Mario Elie. You might remember his Kiss Of Death shot for the Rockets against the Suns in 1995. Oh yeah, a classic.

GRADE: The shot did plenty to lift the Magic out of their doldrums, if only temporary. But as epic shots go, meh. The Horry Scale is unforgiving, just like the player it’s named after. Let’s give it 2 Horrys.

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Horry Scale: Celtics’ Bradley nails winning 3

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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