You know what Atlanta Hawk Kyle Korver is really good at? Right, shooting 3-pointers. You know what he’s just as good at? Right, swatting the shots of 7-footers … wait, WHAT?!?!
That’s right, in the Hawks’ Game 1 win over the Pacers, the man with the NBA’s longest 3-pointers made streak sank as many long-distance shots as he had blocks of Indiana’s Roy Hibbert. Read that again. And then watch it …
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…
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.
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.
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 …
What say you? How many Horry’s would you give Chris Douglas-Roberts’ GWBB?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — On Friday night, I went to Brooklyn and saw the Atlanta Hawks beat the Nets, 93-88, behind 22 points from Hawks point guard Jeff Teague. After the game, reporters gathered around Teague to ask about the game. I waited, because I wanted to ask him about something completely different.
A week earlier, I’d noticed Teague tweet during Wrestlemania following The Undertaker‘s first-ever Wrestlemania loss…
Hawks fans came into Sunday expecting a herculean effort to beat the Pacers in Indiana. Struggling or not, the Pacers have won 34 games at home (most in the NBA). Besides, Atlanta had lost 21 out of its past 29 games.
It took three possessions in to see who was the better team. A hundred or so possessions later, the Hawks unleashed droppings all over Bankers Life Fieldhouse en route to a 107-88 victory.
But the Pacers didn’t go down without a fight. Early in the fourth quarter, Lance Stephenson decided to show Paul Millsap how much he could channel Liu Kang on a basketball court.
I’m not sure if Millsap enjoyed his martial artistry as much as I did:
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Yesterday, in order to shake things up a bit, the Atlanta Hawks handed over their Twitter account to Deadspin writer Drew Magary, who was in town for the Hawks/Raptors game to sing the American and Canadian national anthems. Magary spent most of the day working to rebrand the Hawks with a more fearsome image…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — So here’s a quick story: A few years ago I wrote a story for GQabout the Dream Team. While I was reporting the story, I wanted to speak to as many Dream Teamers as I could, obviously, so I basically left messages with my cell phone number for everyone. Some calls were returned, but more were not. So I kept digging and calling and trying.
One weekday morning at 7:00 A.M., my cell phone rang, waking me from a deep sleep. I rolled over and checked the screen, and didn’t recognize the number, but I answered anyway. It was Karl Malone. While I appreciated him returning my call, even if it was at 7:00 A.M., I asked if I could call him back in five minutes, after I had a chance to grab my recorder and my notes (and my clothes). The Mailman said sure, but cautioned me to be quick about it because he was about to go out hunting. I rolled out of bed, got my stuff together and went into my office. I sat down and called the number he’d called me on, and after one ring a fax machine answered. As the machine screamed and whirred into my ear, in the background I heard NBA legend Karl Malone yelling over it: “Lang…hold on…I just…hang on a minute…” Eventually he got the fax stopped and we had a great conversation. (And we were later able to joke about his early-morning calls.)
Anyway, point being, Karl Malone may be one of the greatest NBA players of all-time, but that doesn’t mean he has to be great with technology. If there were any doubt, during last night’s Hawks/Jazz game, my main man Andre Aldridge caught up with the Mailman and found that he’s still using a flip phone in 2014…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I grew up in Atlanta during the ’90s, a time that coincided with the run of Dikembe Mutombo as an Atlanta Hawk. Mutombo never really developed a dominant offensive post game, he was terrific on defense. He got dunked on from time to time, yes, but that was because he tried to block any shot that came near the rim. And when he did get his hands on a shot attempt, Mutombo generally turned that shot around pretty quickly. And then came the crowning glory: The Finger Wag.
It was such a prevalent maneuver that my friends and I started using it in traffic to express our displeasure with other drivers. It was cheeky, but ultimately non-threatening. Also, it was awesome.
Even though Mutombo retired a few seasons ago, the finger wag remains relevant. Just yesterday, for instance we got two displays of the Mutombo finger wag. First Amar’e Stoudemiredelivered one after blocking Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson…
And then we saw one from the stands, as Joakim Noah‘s dad, Yannick, dropped one following a block from Joakim that caused a Miami 24-second violation…
Mutombo may be gone. The finger wag will never die.
When Mike Millerdrained a treyball without a left shoe during a Miami run in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, it was a moment that earned an ESPY nod and will be remembered for a long time. Yeah, it was a big shot during a classic Finals game, but the visual was more remarkable by its rarity. If you asked every player that suited up for an NBA game if he hit a deep ball bereft of a shoe during a game, I’d wager that less than two percent would say yes.
Count the Hawks’ Mike Scott among the initiated. Against the Warriors on Friday, he slips right out his left shoe while setting a pick. Call a timeout or foul immediately on defense, right? Nope. Play on!
After playing a possession on D, still unable to slip his shoe back on, he slides back down the court. Coming off another screen and his man David Lee miles away, he found himself WIDE OPEN on the pass from Jeff Teague. You can guess what happened next:
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just as important as any great dunk is the celebration that follows. And we aren’t only talking about the way the dunker himself lets the world know he threw down, but the way his teammates get into the act and celebrate. To that end, let’s take a look at a couple of recent bench celebrations and see which bench celebrated best.
1. Detroit Pistons A few days ago the Pistons hosted the Atlanta Hawks, and Pistons big man Andre Drummond got a steal and a dunk on Elton Brand. It wasn’t a dunk on as much as it was a dunk around as Brand tried to deliver a foul. Still, Brand went reeling, making it look worse than it probably was. Either way, as it was down the stretch in a close game, the Pistons bench turned in a celebration for the ages.
And how about that Pistons bench? Coaches and players alike went wild, although it’s always hard to top Pistons assistant coach Rasheed Wallace…
2. Golden State Warriors
Last night against the same Pistons team, Golden State’s Klay Thompson dunked on Kyle Singler. Singler’s legs got tangled or went numb or something, and following the dunk Singler did a stiff-legged stumble into the photographers along the baseline.
It’s a bit tougher to see the bench celebration on this one, but even without Kent Bazemore there to lead the way, the Warriors bench knows how to be explosive after a big play. Watch this GIF of the play and see how the bench shows out. (There’s also the great juxtoposition of the bench getting up as Singler goes down.)
So what say you? Which bench had the better reaction?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Two years ago, I was having breakfast one morning in Atlanta with Jamal Crawford, who was playing for the Hawks at the time. While we were talking about his career, he casually mentioned that he’d had a different head coach every season of his NBA career. I’d never realized this, and it sounded too amazing to be true. But when I pressed him for details, he ran them all down, one by one. A few months after we spoke, he signed with the Clippers and played a season for a new coach, Vinny Del Negro. Then last summer the Clips went a different way and hired Doc Rivers, meaning Crawford again had a new coach.
During yesterday’s Clips/Thunder game on ABC, Lisa Salters asked Crawford if he could name all the coaches he’s had through the years even in the middle of a game. As Jamal said, he thrives under pressure…