ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — OK, sure, everyone’s all excited about the return of the Charlotte Hornets, which was made official earlier today. It’s great, I suppose, as the Bobcats cast aside a nickname that never really resonated in the region and instead embrace the name that was with them during the franchise glory days.
But what about Rufus? Did anyone think of Rufus Lynx, the mascot of the Bobcats? With the Bobcats name gone, it’s also time to say goodbye to the Bobcats mascot, who will go where all mascots go when they are no longer needed. (The recycling bin? A utility closet? The fabric store? Not sure where that is, actually.)
In a few weeks we will all laugh and cheer for Hugo the Hornet as he is removed from mothballs are re-introduced as the franchise mascot. But don’t you ever forget about Rufus. All he did was do his job, until it went away. Godspeed, Rufus.
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 — One interesting side effect of having UConn and Kentucky play against each other for the national title last night was that there are plenty of NBA players, both past and present, from those two schools. The Charlotte Bobcats, for instance, feature current teammates from both schools — Michael Kidd-Gilchrist won a title with Kentucky in 2012, while Kemba Walker won a championship with UConn the previous year.
So the teammates got together last night to watch the big game. And when UConn prevailed, Kidd-Gilchrist posted a photo to Instagram of himself wearing a UConn shirt and looking rather nonplussed, alongside a thrilled Walker. As MKG captioned it, “Crown Them Uconn Boyzz #respect”…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — There are blocked shots, and then there are BLOCKED SHOTS. This from Greg Monroe last night against Cody Zeller is definitely a BLOCKED SHOT. I think Zeller should have let go of the ball a bit sooner. Looks 2014 just isn’t Zeller’s year so far.
All this play was missing was the finger wag after the block…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — If you’re into the NBA’s most devastating dunks, we’ve got you covered over at the new-and-improved Dunk HQ. But because we’re the All Ball blog and we like to look at the NBA from non-traditional angles, we will focus on the flip side of the NBA’s best dunks: What we want to know is, who got got?
So welcome to Volume Three of The All Ball Posterized Poll. We will check in from time to time and examine the worst of the best, and use a highly scientific polling method to determine which NBA player got dunked on (a.k.a. posterized) the most egregiously. And at the end of the season all of our winners will battle it out to determine who it is that most belongs on a poster.
The winner of Volume One was New Orleans’ Jeff Withey, who was placed on a poster by Lakers’ wingman Xavier Henry, his college teammate. The winner of Volume Two was Atlanta’s Al Horford, who was posterized by Victor Oladipo.
But can anyone top Withey? We have five brand new nominees. We checked in with NBA.com’s own slam dunk specialist, LeMont Calloway, for his informed perspective on the matter. “What I’ll say most about these defenders is that at least they’re trying to show help-side D,” LeMont notes. “There’s a defender or two around the league who wouldn’t even dare, let alone probably couldn’t even make the proper rotation. (Calling you out Boozer!) But, it’s like Bill Walton used to say: What are big men doing trying to take charges anyway?”
Now, to the latest nominees …
1. Terrence Ross on Kenneth Faried
LeMont’s Take: “Not only does this one have all the qualities needed to make it a great posterizer (elevating over a jumping, contesting defender, finishing tough), but the still shot of the play makes for an amazing visual. From Faried’s honest attempt at defending to Ross’ acrobatic cock-back wind-up, you have to appreciate both players’ intensity.” -
VIDEO:Ross on Faried - 2. Kevin Martin on Tayshaun Prince
LeMont’s Take: “No shots fired, but has Kevin Martin ever had a play like this in the NBA? Wanna know what sticks out to me the most about this banger? It’s the fact that Martin’s swagged-out slow walk after the dunk suggests that Kevin Martin posterizers, like a LeBron jam, for instance, are household plays. It’s like Martin is saying, ‘This is what I do.’ Love it!” -
VIDEO:Martin on Prince - 3. Taj Gibson on Bismack Biyombo
LeMont’s Take: “Bulls announcer Stacey King knows a poster when he sees it. And if there’s one Bull who has a pretty good resume of big facials, it’s Taj Gibson (ask Nikola Vucevic or a 2011 D-Wade about their Gibson experiences). Game film is key in this game, and if Bismack Biyombo was paying any attention, he’d know that Gibson usually means serious two-handed business at the rim.” -
VIDEO:Gibson on Biyombo - 4. Anthony Davis on Big Baby
LeMont’s Take: “I feel pretty confident calling it right now: Anthony Davis may turn out to be one of the best big man to utilize the pick and roll. A lot of his dunks and alley-oops this season have come in this manner, and he’s only going to keep learning and getting better at it. It just so happens that his play-cousin Glen Davis is part of the education.” -
VIDEO:Davis on Davis - 5. Lance Stephenson on referee Ed Malloy
LeMont’s Take: “No man is safe from getting dunked on. Not kids on Nerf hoops, not unsuspecting rookies, not even referees. How many people can say they dunked on an official and got away with it? Lance Stephenson can, and he’s probably the envy of many a player in the NBA. (I’m sure there are plenty of guys who’d love to dunk one on Joey Crawford.) The Pacers’ spark plug may be ticked off that he didn’t make the All-Star team, but hopefully he was able to unleash some of that anger here, even if it was at the expense of a ref.” -
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We are not here to focus on anyone’s personal life, but when you post your business on Twitter, it sort of feels like it’s fair game. Which is why we turn our bleary eyes toward Bobcats rookie center Cody Zeller, who had a rough New Year’s Eve/Day. To begin with, Zeller celebrated New Year’s Eve while on the road with the Bobcats. Unfortunately, Zeller celebrated alone on Twitter. And from what he posted, a lonely New Year is nothing new…
Happy New Years!!!! I'm now 0-21 on that whole "midnight kiss" thing.— Cody Zeller (@CodyZeller) January 01, 2014
(Maybe it’s just me, but it fells like a “frowning”/”crying” emoticon would have been a solid choice at the end of that tweet.)
Then the next day, the Bobcats took on the Clippers, and Zeller’s attempt to fly in and dunk past Blake Griffin was rejected…by the rim.
Those guys on the bench in the background feel his pain.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just because NBA players may become friendly with one another, that doesn’t mean they can’t find the motivation necessary to get fired up when taking on an opponent…particularly if it’s an old friend. When the Jazz took on the Bobcats over the weekend, it meant a return match-up for former Jazz big Al Jefferson, who signed as a free agent with the Bobcats this summer.
To make sure everyone was in the proper frame of mind, Jazz center Enes Kanter left a trash-talking note in Jefferson’s locker (complete with a reference to Jefferson’s super-sized bed) to ensure he was properly motivated.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Now that the New Orleans Hornets are officially the New Orleans Pelicans, the Hornet has been left buzzing along alone, at least in mascot terms. Not for long, though, as the Charlotte Bobcats will shrug off the Cats and once again become the Charlotte Hornets.
Confused? Think of it this way: The Charlotte Hornets were one the of the NBA’s most popular teams during the ’90s, with one of the most identifiable logos and uniforms. In 2002, they franchise moved to New Orleans, and in 2013 they became the Pelicans. Meanwhile, in 2004 a new team was established in Charlotte, and called the Bobcats. But now that the popular Hornets nickname is back on the market, the Bobcats have wasted no time announcing their intentions to reclaim their iconic mascot.
The change doesn’t actually kick in until next season, but for now the Bobcats/Hornets (Hobcats? Bornets?) have set up a website where you can look through all their new logos. There’s also a video here showing off their new brand identity below -
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…
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.)
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.
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.
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.
What say you? How many Horrys would you give Kemba Walker’s game-winning buzzer-beater?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — With the NBA season literally hours away, teams around the League are out and about in their local communities doing things to connect with fans, like the video we saw last week where the Utah Jazz hit up an area mall. In the videos below we see several members of the Charlotte Bobcats out in their community meeting fans, making them sandwiches and carrying their drugstore purchases to their car.
I like that Kemba Walker admits he has always wanted to make a sandwich at Subway, because honestly, who hasn’t looked behind the counter and, even just once, wanted to go all in on a sandwich? Also, the quick Al Jefferson chest-pound after hanging up the phone is a fantastic moment.