ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Today is May 4, which to a certain subset of people (including Brook and Robin Lopez, above) is better known as May The 4th Be With You, a day to celebrate all things Star Wars. And NBA teams, they’re just like us! Here’s how several teams celebrated the day on social media…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We’ve faithfully chronicled the exploits of Knicks center Robin Lopez when it comes to mascots, as he has repeatedly found himself in physical altercations with our (usually) furry friends. Robin’s most recent mascot mixup came in Toronto, as he tangled with the Raptor.
Last night, perhaps to avenge the family name, Robin’s brother Brook, who has largely stayed above the mascot fray, was in Toronto and got into it with the Raptor…
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.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We know the Lopez brothers have an appreciation for science fiction and nerd culture, so what better way to have Brook and Robin Lopez promote the upcoming game matching their two teams, the Knicks and the Nets, than by giving the bros a couple of lightsabers and having them go at it? I love this so much, mostly because they get so into it and are clearly intensely focused on winning the imaginary lightsaber battle…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We’ve done plenty about of stories here about Knicks center Robin Lopez and his love for nerd culture. Well, his twin brother Brook may not be as outspoken about it, but turns out he’s just as nerdy. Check out this video from the Brooklyn Nets, where Brook is shown for the first time his upcoming Star Wars-themed bobblehead. Some of the things Brook talks about, off the cuff, include lightsaber colors, padawan braids, carrot sticks…it’s all really happening in this video…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We’ve dutifully chronicled the story of Portland’s Robin Lopez and his long-running hatred of mascots. These furry friends have tried their best to make nice, but Robin just keeps bringing the pain to mascots around the NBA.
If the mascots can’t get Robin on their side, perhaps they can at least cause a schism within the Lopez family and cause psychological trouble? A strategic masterstroke from the mascots? A one-time letdown from Brook?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s election day here in the United States, so let’s have a poll that allows everyone to vote. This all started last night when I was at the Nets/Thunder game, and Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez made a nice play blocking an alley-oop attempt from OKC’s Lance Thomas. You can watch that play here…
(Also, just for what it’s worth, I had nothing to do with that play being labeled as the “Block Of The Night.”)
At some point later in the evening, I got into a discussion on Twitter with my NBA Digital co-workers Jared Greenberg and Brent Barry about which play was the better block. (I also roped The Brooklyn Game’s Devin Kharpertian into the mix.)
• His favorite ride at Disneyland? “Pirates of the Caribbean, by far. It’s the best re-creation of reality they’ve done so far. There’s a storyline, and it kind of gets lost. They did such a great job of putting subtle themes in the ride. Everything’s very deliberate. But it is also very natural, very chaotic in its own sense. There’s something perfect about that, and it’s not been topped.”
• The highlight of his own comic book collection? “I do have a complete run of Teen Titans from their first print to Secret Origins to now, even though I’m not a big fan of the Essential series. I’m kind of just collecting out of the completist sense.”
• His least favorite NBA mascot? “The Toronto Raptor. I wish we could go back to Toronto, because he gets my goat. I have a few choice words for that guy.” (When asked if he cared to expound on that, Lopez answered, “No. He knows.”)
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…
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.
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.
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.
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…
What say you? How many Horrys does Joe Johnson’s GWBB deserve?