Posts Tagged ‘2015 NBA Playoffs’

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: 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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J.J. Watt has a blast at Game 2 of Rockets-Mavs series

By Jeff Case

The Houston Rockets are expecting a big playoff run in 2015, what with their fancy, new pregame intros and whatnot. Tuesday night’s Game 2 moved Houston to 2-0 in its series with the rival Dallas Mavericks and delighted the fans at Toyota Center — one of whom was Houston Texans star J.J. Watt.

Before the game, Watt and his fellow Rockets fans were treated to a masterful rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” by 12-year-old Nicholas Connors:

After which Watt congratulated Connors on his rendition (and clearly shocked him in the process):

And lastly, Watt soaked up the Rockets’ win with some celebratory dancing:


VIDEO: J.J. Watt dances after the Game 2 win