The Horry scale

Horry Scale: Joe Knows


VIDEO: Joe Johnson Does It Again

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s late at night, I’ve got one full day of vacation staring me in the face, and before I drift off to bed, I’m thinking about the last few things I’d like to accomplish (a long nap tomorrow, not doing chores, etc.) before heading back to the blizzard in NYC. And then Joe Johnson does it again. The Brooklyn Nets needed a win in the worst way, and who better to turn to than Joe Cool?

I know we usually air these posts out a bit, but this one is going to be a bit more to the point, because, you know, vacation. But 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 other thing before we move on: I’ve received a few emails from Blazers fans and Thunder fans wondering why I had not done Horry Scale posts for their teams when Lillard and Westbrook have hit game-winners. My reasoning is sound: Those guys have hit game-winners, yes, but they both left tenths of a second on the clock. And as we all know from reading the rules above, we are looking for shots with 0.0 remaining on the clock.

Which leads us to Joe Johnson…

DIFFICULTY
The toughest part of Joe’s game winner was having the 6-10ish Serge Ibaka guarding him. But the rest of the shot was the same kind of shot Joe’s been knocking down his entire pro career. He inbounded the ball to Kevin Garnett, who handed it back to Joe, and then you can see all the other Nets clear out of the way and just let Joe do his thing. I’ve often said that if Joe Johnson were in a one-on-one contest against any other NBA player, I think he’d fare pretty well, because he’s terrific at using his dribble and his size to nearly always get his shot off. And this instance was no exception.

GAME SITUATION
More like season situation. The Nets have famously been something of a mess this season, and the recent season-ending injury to Brook Lopez led to many thinking it was time to put the final fork in the Nets (if we hadn’t already). So to say they needed a win not just on this night but to give life to their season is no understatement. And I’m pretty sure nobody thought that win would come on the road, against the mighty Oklahoma City Thunder.

CELEBRATION
Rowdy. Even moreso than on Johnson’s previous game-winner this season. Of course, even though this isn’t an overtime finish, the Nets probably have more at stake now than they did a few weeks back. They’ve been knocked down, but they got up again.

GRADE
We’ve had a run of 4 Horry scores of late, and I think it’s time to break that streak. While the shot over the bigger defender was impressive, it was a basic jumper in a one-on-one setting. So I’m giving this three Horrys

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What say you? How many Horrys does Joe Johnson’s GWBB deserve?

Horry Scale: Teague Time


VIDEO: Teague’s Winner

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Perhaps you thought you were done unwrapping presents, but tonight in Cleveland, the Hawks and Cavs had one last gift for you. It was one of the most entertaining games of the season, so of course it had to end (not in regulation, not in overtime, but in double overtime) with a game-winning buzzer-beater from Hawks guard Jeff Teague.

Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain: 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.

With the rules in place, tonight we look to the shores of Lake Erie, to Cleveland, where Jeff Teague could not be stopped…not even by Uncle Drew.

DIFFICULTY
To be fair, it wasn’t the toughest shot in the world — Teague drove left and pulled up for the right-handed jumper, kind of like Hawks guard Mike Bibby used to do. The simple genius in this play was the Hawks running Paul Millsap at Teague with about 6 seconds left to ostensibly set a screen. Millsap got to Teague and set what was basically a token screen, and the Cavs switched the pick. Now, we’ve talked about switching picks here previously — pretty much every NBA team switches picks in the final seconds because the last thing you want is someone who is totally unguarded. You might end up with a mismatch, but at least you’ve got someone defending everyone. On this play, that meant the Cavs went from having Kyrie Irving on Teague to having the 6-foot-9 Tristan Thompson guarding Teague. (Kyrie, by the way, was equally huge tonight, finishing with 40 points and 9 assists). This is what is known as a mismatch, and it only took Teague a few dribbles to shake Thompson and clear room for the last-second shot.

GAME SITUATION
It is in this category that this shot really soars. To begin with, Teague missed a floater with seconds left in regulation that would have broken the tie at 95. Not long into the first overtime, Hawks All-Star center Al Horford had an injury to what appeared to be his right shoulder/chest that took him out of the game, and forced the Hawks to use a variety of makeshift lineups down the stretch. With about 7 seconds left in OT and the Hawks down three, Teague drained a long three-pointer to tie the game at 108. Then with 2.4 seconds left in overtime, the Hawks had a shot at a GWBB from the baseline that Teague couldn’t connect on, sending the game into double OT. In the second OT, Teague had a huge drive-and-one to give the Hawks a 125-123 lead, and then with the game level at 125, Teague ended it. Basically, the situation couldn’t have been much more dramatic. And Teague put the bow on top.

CELEBRATION
I’m going to lump the ball going through the rim as part of the celebration, because it doesn’t really fit anywhere else (it’s not “difficulty,” it’s just lucky) and that was a huge part of what made this such a great shot. The ball hit the rim five times, I believe, and it may have even kissed the glass somwhere in there, all while the buzzer was sounding in the background and you wondered, “It’s not going to…no way…that can’t…ohmygoshhemadeit!” And then after the ball drops, you see Teague laying flat on the ground celebrating — not only the GWBB but also a career-high 34 points — with Kyle Korver pounding on his chest. This was the first prone Horry Scale celebration of the season, I believe.

GRADE
For reasons that will become evident in the next week or so, I watched this game intently from the Turner Studios in Atlanta, and the deeper the game went, the more sure I was that we’d have a GWBB. It was an exciting, close game, and it had an equally exciting finish. So for all the reasons detailed above, I’m giving this Four Horrys. I thought seriously about giving this a Five just because it was such a great game, but I felt the actual shot could have had a bit of a higher degree of difficulty.

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What say you? How many Horrys would you give Jeff Teague’s GWBB?

Horry Scale: Evan Almighty


VIDEO: Turner’s Game Winner

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — And the hits just keep on coming. It feels like it was just yesterday that I wrote about this flurry of game-winning buzzer-beaters (GWBBs) that we’ve seen of late. (That’s because it was just yesterday that I wrote about this flurry of game-winning buzzer-beaters (GWBBs) that we’ve seen of late.) The news never stops, you guys.

Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain: 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.

With the rules in place, tonight we look to the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, where Evan Turner doesn’t care how many Horry Scale entries it takes to get a win for the Sixers…

DIFFICULTY
In terms of the shot itself, it goes down in the game log as “Turner Driving Layup Shot.” But in actuality it was so much more. Evan Turner is actually the player who inbounded the ball on this play. Sixers C Spencer Hawes released away from the basket and caught the lob pass, at which point Turner took off on a sprint. He ran to Hawes for a dribble hand-off and basically used Hawes as a pivot point, U-turning back in toward the rim. At this point the Nets had two guys on Turner — Brook Lopez and Shaun Livingston. Turner adroitly gives a little hesitation and then fires down to the left block for a layup. Just as Turner leaves his feet, Paul Pierce slides in and takes the contact from Turner. Is this a charge? Is it a block? We’ll leave that for Joe Borgia, because in this case it’s officially neither: No call is made. Turner releases the ball with about 1.4 seconds remaining. The ball then bounces around the rim, kissing the iron three different times as the clock expires, before finally dropping through for the 121-120 Sixers win. It wasn’t a long shot, but there were many things that broke Philly’s way on the play.

GAME SITUATION
Not only was the game in overtime, but Pierce had hit a three-pointer a few seconds earlier to put Brooklyn ahead 120-119. With six seconds left to play in overtime, the Sixers had to inbound the ball under their own basket. Inbounding the ball under the basket is always tough — the backboard itself limits several passing angles that would be available from any other spot on the court. The play the Sixers came up with, which we broke down above, was pretty great — the Nets obviously didn’t expect Hawes to be the target on the play, and once Hawes had the ball, the Sixers used a sneaky backscreen to free Turner. Also worth noting is that the Sixers had lost seven straight games coming into this one and are about to leave on a six-game road trip to the West Coast. So not only did they need the win, but losing their eighth straight in an overtime game would have made things even more difficult to stomach.

CELEBRATION
I counted nine members of the Sixers who get involved in the initial celebration, mobbing Turner. That’s seventy-five percent of the night’s active roster, an important threshold to hit for our grading purposes. I feel like the celebration was also a bit subdued because whenever there’s a GWBB where the shot is released so close to the buzzer, there’s always that moment of indecision where you’re not sure whether or not the shot will actually count until the referees review the replay. In this case it was rather obvious, but it’s not official until it’s official.

GRADE
I’m trying to go more with my gut on these, after I had to admit I underscored Jeff Green‘s season-opening shot. So for this shot, with the creative inbounds play, the contact on the shot, the dramatic bounces on the rim, the game being in overtime and the Sixers ending the seven-game L streak, I’m going with Four Horrys.

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What say you? How many Horrys would you give Evan Turner’s game-winning buzzer-beater?

Horry Scale: Kemba Can


VIDEO: Walker’s Big Shot

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — These things happen in bunches, it would seem. Seriously, we go days, weeks even, without any movement on the Horry Scale, and then it all goes crazy. Now it’s as though we can’t go a day or two without a Game-Winning Buzzer-Beater happening. And that’s not counting Damian Lillard twice flirting with entries on the Scale and missing by tenths of seconds.

Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain: 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.

With the rules in place, today we look north of the border to lovely Toronto, Canada, where Charlotte’s Kemba Walker pulled off some last-second magic…

DIFFICULTY
The Bobcats had the ball out of bounds with exactly one second remaining and the score tied at 102. The play the Bobcats drew up essentially had two players staggered a few feet away from each other, running a loop away from the ball. Al Jefferson then set a screen right around the free-throw line for Walker, who flashed across the lane and cleared space for himself by literally rubbing off Jefferson as he went past. As Walker cleared Jefferson and neared inbounds man Josh McRoberts, he drifted toward the baseline, further separating himself from defender Kyle Lowry. Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas, who switched on the play and left Jefferson for Walker, was able to get a hand up in Walker’s face, but it was too little, too late, and Walker was left with a catch-and-shoot jump shot from about 16 feet for the win. Nice shot considering the circumstances, but basically an open catch-and-shoot by NBA standards. (Also, shout-out to McRoberts for the nifty pump-fake on the inbound pass — he fakes right then passes left — which created the room to make the pass.)

GAME SITUATION
Tie score, in overtime, one second left. It doesn’t get much more money than that. But it’s also worth noting that the Bobcats had been down 16 earlier in the night and managed to come back and make a game of it. Also, Bobcats coach Steve Clifford noted that Walker sinking a GWBB like that was “in his nature.” Nobody associated with the Bobcats has won much of anything in the NBA, at least since being associated with the Bobcats, but it’s worth remembering that while in college at Connecticut, Walker hit his share of big shots and was a first-team All-American as the Huskies won a national championship. So while Walker has worked to establish his place in the NBA, he has a background that would suggest that you want him taking this shot.

CELEBRATION
This is the part of these Horry Scale plays I’ve tried to focus on because there are so many varying reactions. In this case, for some reason, when Walker’s shot swishes through, all the members of the Bobcats on the court calmly turn and walk away. (McRoberts is purposefully walking in the other direction well before the shot drops, like he’s late for an appointment.) Walker does seem to get mobbed by teammates eventually,  but it’s only once he’s closer to his own bench. Also, if you crank up the audio on the clip above, someone begins laughing maniacally around the 11-second mark. Not sure what that’s about but it’s a fun wrinkle.

GRADE
This probably isn’t a game with any immediate or long-term championship implications. If anything, perhaps a win like this — on the road, in overtime — will give the Bobcats a bit of a spark as they try to get to .500. Still, a defended catch-and-shoot, in overtime … when you factor it all together, I’m giving this shot three Horrys.

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What say you? How many Horrys would you give Kemba Walker’s game-winning buzzer-beater?

Horry Scale: All Al


VIDEO: Horford’s Game Winner
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ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s a good thing we put the Horry Scale on wheels a few months ago, because we’ve now had to break it out two weekends in a row. Tonight, Al Horford answered his former Hawks teammate Joe Johnson’s overtime game-winner from a few weeks back with an overtime GWBB of his own.

Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain: 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.

With the rules in place, Today we turn our tired eyes to my dear departed hometown, the ATL shawty, and let’s check out tonight’s game-winner from Al Horford…

DIFFICULTY
I think this was supposed to be a play for Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver, who ran off three screens on the wing but couldn’t find room to get the ball. (A Hawks source told me they hadn’t seen the Hawks use that set all season.) With Korver covered, Horford cut toward the basket, and Hawks big man Pero Antic lobbed it high and far. Horford made a terrific play creating space by keeping Washington’s Trevor Booker an arm’s length away as he drifted back, like a wide receiver making space to catch a pass. Once he made the catch, the shot itself wasn’t all that difficult — the kind of jumper Horford hits with regularity. As a rookie, Horford was consistently left open for shots like this because he wasn’t nearly as good a shooter as he’s developed into. These days Horford is essentially money out to 17 feet — as long as he has room to get the shot off — banging in those flat-footed jumpers.

GAME SITUATION
The Hawks led throughout the second half and were up by 15 in the fourth before finding themselves down two with seconds to play in regulation. Horford made two free throws with 5.5. seconds remaining in order to tie the game and prep it for overtime. When Horford hit the game-winner, the score was tied at 99 and the clock racing to zero. But the 1.8 second left when Horford made the catch gave him plenty of time to get the shot off, and just a short enough time frame to not allow the Wizards a touch once the ball went through the net. (Which also required me to write this post at 1:13 AM. Thanks Al!)

CELEBRATION
The more Horry Scale posts I’ve penned, the more GWBB I’ve examined, the more I’ve realized that when it comes to celebration, it’s not always only about the players celebrating. Yes, the Hawks players are pumped up and they respond to Horford’s shot with the requisite jumping around, but what elevates the celebration — any celebration, really — is the participation of those uninvolved with the actual game. In this case, I loved seeing Harry the Hawk sprinting down the court to get involved, and in a few camera angles you see several fans along the sideline leaping up and down.

GRADE
The more I think about these GWBB, I’m not sure how I would ever give a game-winning shot a one or two rating. These are big moments, big shots, and I don’t feel like we can rate anyone’s big shot as less than average. That said, I’m going with three on this shot. It wasn’t much of a shot from a technical standpoint, but the celebration helps, as does the game being in overtime. So I say three.

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What say you? How many Horrys would you give Al Horford’s game-winning buzzer beater?

Horry Scale: Monta Is Money


VIDEO: Monta Ellis GWBB

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I can not tell a lie: It has been a season of highs and lows here at Horry Scale Central. We began the season with three Game-Winning Buzzer-Beaters within seven days, a flurry of activity to make even the most jaded NBA watcher’s head twirl. This required me to write three Horry Scale posts in succession, which turned out to be a controversial endeavor. Folks weren’t happy with my rating of the Jeff Green GWBB, which kept me up very late at night, triggering some difficult and genuine soul searching, at least as far as you know. Since then I have perhaps tried to overcorrect with some of my other ratings, a maneuver that has in no small part generated its own share of controversy, and which has caused something of an existential Horry Scale crisis.

But I digress. Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain: 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.

With the rules in place, Today we turn our tired eyes to the lovely Pacific Northwest. Let’s check out last night’s game-winner from Monta Ellis

DIFFICULTY
Monta Ellis has made tougher shots in his career, probably even in this game. This was basically a catch-and-shoot on a curl coming around a screen, a shot Ellis has taken thousands of times in his life. And Ellis made a clean catch, swung around the screen, and had a wide open look at the basket. And yes, he drained the shot, so kudos to him. To me the most interesting thing on this play was that the Blazers did not switch defenders on the screen. In the NBA, for the most part defenders always switch on picks in the last few seconds of a game, and particularly on an inbounds play. This is not only easy for the players on the floor to remember, in a more general sense it means defenders are always running at the ball when there are only seconds to play. But as Ellis came around the series of screens, Portland’s Wesley Matthews tried to stay with him, with no real help waiting for him. (As my main man Ben Golliver reports on Blazers Edge, Portland had decided before the play to only switch guard-on-guard screens. Dallas’ other guard on the floor was Jose Calderon, who was inbounding the ball, so the Blazers all knew there would effectively be no switching.) By the time Ellis caught the pass, curled around the pick from DaJuan Blair and popped free at the top of the key, Portland’s best defensive option may have been LaMarcus Aldridge, who was flat-footed about six feet away from Ellis. Matthews made a last-second swipe at the ball from behind while trying to recover, but he couldn’t make a difference.

GAME SITUATION
What you don’t see in the clip above is the clutch three-pointer Lillard made to tie the game with 1.9 seconds remaining. That play was set up by a Dallas turnover from, you guessed it, Monta Ellis. So in many ways this GWBB was about redemption for Monta. Still, once Dallas got the ball with the game tied, it seemed like it would probably be Dirk Nowitzki time, right? Even in the video above, as the Mavs line up for the play, you can hear Portland analyst Mike Rice note, “Watch [DaJuan] Blair set a pick for either Vince Carter or Dirk.” So Dallas coach Rick Carlisle using the situation to run a play for Ellis was not only in retrospect a wise choice, it was crafty, as well.

IMPORTANCE
This was big on both sides. The Blazers had been riding a four-game winning streak, and had amassed eight straight wins at home. The crowd in Portland, which is always among the best in sports, was rowdy and sold out, twenty-thousand strong. The Mavs, meanwhile, after an offseason that was quieter than most expected, have been something of a mild surprise this season, bobbing along a couple of games above .500. Any road win in the NBA is a good thing, but a road win over the best team in the Conference is always a great thing.

CELEBRATION
The Mavs seemed really fired up by Ellis’ shot, surrounding him and grabbing him. Also, I’m pretty sure someone ran off the Dallas bench and hit Ellis with a large cushion at about the 19-second mark of the video. I particularly enjoyed this facet of the celebration: The cushion bash needs to become a regular part of post-shot celebrations.

If nothing else, Mavs owner Mark Cuban was jacked up about it…

GRADE
I think we can all agree that the degree of difficulty wasn’t through the roof, at least just as a jump shot, in a bubble. But all the other parts of this play — Ellis’ earlier turnover, Lillard’s game-tying three moments earlier, Portland’s home win streak, Dallas’ execution on the final play — give added weight to the play. This is one of those situations where I wish we had half-Horrys to award, because I really feel like this is a 3.5 Horry Play. Should I round up or down? That’s another discussion for another day. In this case, I’m going with four Horrys, because for me the post-shot cushion bash lifts it from three to four…

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That’s my take. How many Horry’s would you give the Monta Ellis game-winner?

Horry Scale: Joe Cool


VIDEO: Joe Johnson’s GWBB

The game winning buzzer beaters are coming fast and furious now. So yeah, we’re on the third Horry Scale entry of the last seven days, as last night Joe Johnson and the Brooklyn Nets went to Phoenix, and their game drifted into overtime before JJ managed to end it with a dagger. NBA players obviously can not resist the allure of making Horry Scale appearances.

Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain. 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.

With the rules in place, let’s check out last night’s game-winner.

DIFFICULTY
I’ve long held that Joe Johnson is one of the most underrated offensive players in the NBA. I watched nearly every Hawks game he played, and saw him night after night carry the load offensively. It wasn’t always pretty, it wasn’t always the most efficient offense, but it was more often than not effective. Johnson can score in so many ways, and that versatility was on display last night. Joe’s GWBB was a runner in the paint with two defenders coming after him. Joe put a slight hesitation dribble on PJ Tucker and watched him soar past, then went up and lofted the ball high over Channing Frye for the bucket, just in time. On first glance it wasn’t particularly spectacular, but the more I watch it the more impressive it becomes — going the length of the court in four seconds, being patient enough to let Tucker take himself out of the play, and then getting the shot off cleanly over a seven-footer before the clock trickled out of time.

GAME SITUATION
So here we are, game tied at 98 in overtime, 8 seconds remaining on the clock and about 2 on the shot clock, and Frye misses a three from the wing. Johnson ends up with the rebound, and the rest is history. You often hear coaches debate whether or not to use a timeout in those circumstances. Do you stop the game to set up a play, but also potentially allow the defense to get set? Or do you take advantage of the chaos and let them play? Another potential subplot for the Nets is, Who takes the final shot in a close game? All of these issues were avoided by Coach Kidd by just letting the game play out in the moment. (Worth noting: Deron Williams had sprained his ankle earlier and was out, so perhaps that played into Kidd’s decision as well.)

IMPORTANCE
The Nets have been struggling this season, starting off 2-5, one loss away from the basement in the Eastern Conference, and not looking anything like the contending team most experts projected them to be. Conversely, the Suns have been surprisingly good, beginning 5-3 and making people wonder if talk of tanking was premature. It’s still early in the season, but a W for the Nets could help them start to turn things around. As Johnson said after the game, “It was big. There could be a domino effect.” The Nets better hope so: They play the Clippers in Los Angeles tonight.

CELEBRATION
The jubilation was there, if a bit muted until Kevin Garnett arrived and shook up the huddle a bit. To be fair, Joe Johnson has never been accused of being demonstrative. (Also, check out Tucker in the background on his knees, head to the court, literally floored by the loss.) “I couldn’t even celebrate, I was so tired,” Johnson told the New York Post. (He logged almost 45 minutes between regulation and overtime.) “But I was just ready to get out of there. [My teammates] are trying to celebrate and I’m ready to go… I’m like, ‘Let’s go into the locker room and shower and let’s get out of here. … We’ve got a tough game tomorrow.’”

GRADE
Sneaky difficult shot, pretty important game for the Nets, a team excited to get the win. There have been tougher and more important game winners, for sure, but I feel like this a GWBB that will overlooked by some. Anyway, for the reasons outlined above, I’m giving this one three Horrys.

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That’s my take. How many Horry’s would you give Joe Johnson’s game-winner?

Horry Scale: Dre Day


VIDEO: Iguodala’s Game Winner

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — And now the Horry Scale nominees will come fast and furious. After Jeff Green’s game winner just a few days ago, last night’s late TNT game gave us our second nominee of the season, on a last-second shot that didn’t exactly go as planned.

Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain. 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.

With the rules in place, let’s check out last night’s game-winner from Golden State’s Andre Iguodala at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder. (By the way, we will not call him Iggy, because he hates the nickname Iggy.)

DIFFICULTY
In terms of basketball fundamentals, Iguodala was able to take a relatively normal jumper — he was moving toward the baseline with the ball in his right (shooting) hand. But we should note here that the play we saw executed was not the play Mark Jackson drew up, according to Iguodala.
Dre said he was supposed to get the ball, fake a dribble handoff to Klay Thompson, who was inbounding, and then look for his shot. And when they lined up for the play, Kevin Durant was assigned to Iguodala. But the Thunder were switching on the play, and when Thabo Sefolosha switched onto Iguodala and basically overplayed as Iguodala cut toward Thompson, Iguodala make the executive decision to cut backdoor — “I took a page out of Kobe’s book,” said Iguodala — and he found room to receive the pass. If nothing else I just love this play as an example of how much happens in an NBA game that is unplanned — these guys are constantly making plays that are based on reads and reactions, and when multiple players are in sync on something like that, it can be a beautiful thing. Sefolosha defended the shot pretty well and recovered enough to get up in Iguodala’s release, but Dre put enough arc on the ball to not only clear the defender, but also take pretty much the entire clock before it splashed home.

GAME SITUATION
It’s worth noting that just seconds before Iguodala’s shot, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook drained a long three-pointer on a broken play to give OKC the temporary 115-114 lead. And frankly, I was a bit surprised Iguodala’s shot was a game-winning shot, because when the ball was inbounded there were 2.3 seconds left. And in the NBA, 2.3 seconds can be an eternity — enough time to catch the ball and run a quick play, or make a few moves even. As the Warriors were inbounding the ball, TNT’s Reggie Miller noted, “A lot of time left for a dribble or two for the Warriors, to get this shot off.” Watching the replays, I’m still not convinced there shouldn’t have been a few tenths of a second added back on after this shot. That is barely any time, I know, but hey, Derek Fisher is on the Thunder, isn’t he?

IMPORTANCE
Let me say this here: I am not perfect. In my breakdown of Jeff Green’s game-winner, I discounted my rating of the shot because I felt like it was such an early-season game that it wouldn’t really have ramifications down the line. And in the comments, you guys upbraided me for not accepting that for the Celtics, beating the defending champs at home was a big deal. Looking back, I probably should have given the Green play a 4. There, I said it. But we don’t choose these things, they choose us, and we just have to move on. So before I go and discount this shot for taking place so early in the season, let’s realize that beating Oklahoma City meant a lot to the Warriors, regardless of the point in the season.

CELEBRATION
Hitting a dagger at home means built-in celebratory upgrades, such as confetti and a raucous crowd. After the shot connected, Iguodala instinctively sprinted to halfcourt, and the Warriors bench rushed the floor. We also got a shot of a calm, grinning Jermaine O’Neal, surveying the action from the sideline like the old man who’d seen it all and felt proud for these kids. And you think the Warriors weren’t excited? Check out the celebration from owner Joe Lacob

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Fist pumps in a blazer, you guys.

GRADE
As stated earlier, I caught flack for giving Jeff Green three Horrys, and I have publicly reconsidered my position on that one. For a while I wondered if my legacy here at All Ball would be as the Simon Cowell of the Horry Scale, the tough judge nobody could impress. But nobody likes a meanie, and it’s no fun to have a heart two sizes too small. So for this shot, for reasons outlined above that go above and beyond what was basically a fadeaway jumper, I’m going with four Horrys.

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That’s my take. How many Horry’s would you give Andre Iguodala’s game winner?

(GIF via @CJZero)

Horry Scale: Green’s The Thing


VIDEO: Jeff Green’s Game Winner

And so we have our first. The season is barely a week old, but the Horry Scale has been broached. You want a surprise? It came in Miami, which may not be that shocking, but it came from a team that was not expected to contend this season, much less notch a win in Miami.

Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain. 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.

With the rules established, let’s check out tonight’s entry, when Jeff Green of Celtics delivered a knockout punch on South Beach to the reigning champions, the Miami Heat. Uncle Green ain’t new to this. But how do we rank it? Let’s break it down…

DIFFICULTY
The old saying goes you play to tie at home and play to win on the road. And in this case, the Celtics played to win. I’m not sure how much more difficult this shot could have been. First of all, shoutout to Gerald Wallace for the inbound pass — he pump-faked to a completely covered Avery Bradley and got Birdman Birdman to briefly jump to his right, then tossed a two-hand, over the head strike to the far corner to Green. This was like Tom Brady throwing a perfect corner fade. Worth noting: Green was being defended on the play by LeBron James, an All-NBA defender. And when James turned his head for just a moment, Green took off for the corner, where he was met by Wallace’s pass and got off a shot without even setting his feet. Did this matter? Nope, not at all, as Green drained a fadeaway corner three over King James to give the Celts the road win. It was actually remarkably similar to Ray Allen’s three from Game 6 of the 2013 Finals. Still, in terms of difficulty, it’s hard to top this one.

GAME SITUATION
Up two, with 0.6 seconds left to play, Dwyane Wade went to the free throw line with a chance to ice the game. His first shot rimmed out. His second shot, still with 0.6 remaining, was missed intentionally. BUT HE MISSED THE RIM. If Wade’s shot had simply drawn iron, the clock would have started, and even if the Celts had grabbed the board, there would have been perhaps 0.3 seconds left to get off a shot, which would have required something going to the rim or an alley-oop. But Wade whiffing on everything meant a violation, and the Celts were able to take the ball out of bounds on their end with no time ticking off the clock. As important as Jeff Green’s shot was, Wade not being able to draw rim was equally consequential in this instance.

IMPORTANCE
Yes, we’re still early in the season, and some may argue that winning in general isn’t that important for the Celtics this season. So really, the Celtics probably didn’t need to win this game. And for the Heat, OK, sure, it’s just another early season game. The loss knocked Miami to 4-3, but three seasons ago they began 5-5 and still made the NBA Finals, so if anything we understand that a game this early in the season doesn’t carry that much weight.

CELEBRATION
Considering we’re early in the season and there was little at stake in terms of postseason standings or placement, the celebration was pretty fiery. Kelly Olynyk gave a 360 chest bump, and Wallace and Bradley were right there to give hugs. Bonus points to the coaching staff and bench players for their quick arrivals, as well.

GRADE
3 Horrys. It was a ridiculous shot, there’s no denying that. And while the shot rated highly in most Horry Scale categories, we have to dock it a bit due to the game being relatively inconsequential. It was a nice win for the Celts and a tough loss for the Heat, but there’s a lot of NBA left to play. So we’ll give this one three Horrys.

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What sayeth you? Give us your vote below…

Horry Scale: LeBron Keeps The Crown

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER I have been on the job here at the All Ball Blog since the playoffs started, and somehow we have not had a true Horry Scale-worthy shot in the postseason. There have been a few close calls, sure, but no true buzzer-beating game-winners. That is, until last night, when LeBron James scored a bucket at the buzzer to give the Miami Heat a 103-102 OT win over the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
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For those of you who are new around these parts, like myself, 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 (was it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or did it need more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.

How does King James rate? Break down!

Difficulty

Actually, the shot itself wasn’t all that difficult. It was a layup. Lefty, sure, but still, it was a layup. And basically a wide-open layup, at that. Could the shot have been more difficult? For sure. (For instance, it could have been a jumper, open or contested.) But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t difficulty involved in the play, because the real difficulty was drawing up a play to get LeBron so wide open. Watching the play again, Erik Spoelstra initially used LeBron as a decoy, pretending to a set a screen for a cutting Ray Allen, and then ‘Bron spun and flashed to the ball, received the pass, turned and basically just sprinted right by his defender, Paul George. All that early movement had the Heat players running to corners, leaving the middle of the floor wide open, not only of Heat players but also Indiana defenders.

This brings up another way that this play could have been more difficult: If big Roy Hibbert had been in the game guarding the paint for the Pacers. Hibbert averaged 2.6 blocks this season for Indiana, and he had two Wednesday. Indiana coach Frank Vogel removed Hibbert on defense a few times down the stretch, because he didn’t want Hibbert to get stuck on a switch against a smaller player, or have to go out and guard Chris Bosh on the perimeter. And maybe this is just me, but if it were up to me, I’d rather lose on a long jumper from Bosh than a layup by LeBron.

What do you think, Roy, want to second-guess what would have happened if you’d been out there on the play?

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Game Situation

The stakes were pretty high, as far as the Heat were concerned: Overtime. Dwyane Wade? Fouled out. Timeouts remaining? None. Heat? Down one. Two-point-two seconds on the clock. Doesn’t get much more tense than that.

Importance

It wasn’t the NBA Finals, but being in the playoffs, in the Conference finals, it was as close as you can get without actually getting there. And it wasn’t an elimination game, but other than all that, it doesn’t get much more important.

Celebration

Whoever was directing this game for TNT did one of my favorite things, where as soon as the shot dropped, they switched to a camera way up at the top of the stadium so we could see the arena explode as the home team stole the win at the buzzer. It’s hard to see in the video above, but LeBron basically did the “stoic” celebration — staying calm, like he’s been in that situation before. My favorite celebration might have been the one from Dwyane Wade on the bench, who jumped about four feet into the air. Sore knee? Who me?

Grade

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4 Horrys. I may be more lenient than previous teachers you guys have had here, but for me, LeBron’s game-winner ticked all the boxes. The only thing keeping it from being a Five Horry shot for me was that it was a layup. But then, that was due as much to LeBron’s insane athletic ability as it was to anything else. Also, I can’t come right out of the gate awarding Five Horrys to people. So there are still heights waiting to be reached.

What do you think?

(Hibbert gif via @CJZero)