ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Funny video here from the Toronto Raptors of center Jonas Valanciunas working undercover at a Toronto package shipping company. I mean, about as undercover as you can be with your jersey and photo on display in a huge frame about five feet away from you. Nice touch pretending to have trouble pronouncing his own last name…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas was born and raised in Lithuania. So even though his professional basketball career has taken him around the world, currently placing him in Toronto, the Jonas brother has held on to his roots. In this video he posted on Instagram, he decides he’d like to bring traditional Lithuanian dance back to the forefront. As he writes in the caption, “Lots of great singers and dancers in Lithuania for Lithuanian Song & Dance Festival. I’ve been trying to get @thetorontoraptors dancers to learn real Lithuanian dancing – maybe this season? :))”
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — As we saw last night on “Inside the NBA,” listening to Charles Barkley try to pronounce Jonas Valanciunas is like watching him try to hit a golf ball: Multiple attempts, most of them seem to be heading in the right direction, but most of them end up ending badly.
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 — We are deep into training camp and media days, which can mean only one thing: MUSCLEWATCH 2013 is fully upon us. And even as I am knee-deep in MUSCLEWATCH reports, coming in from around the NBA, imagine my surprise last week when I flipped on NBA TV and found MUSCLEWATCH reaching its largest audience yet:
Hard to say what we like most about this video: the pasted-on faces and reactions of Jonas and Bargs, that Slovenian former Raptors big man Primoz Brezec is listed as a co-star or the whole LSUFreek-ish style of it all. At any rate, we hope this gave you the kind of good laugh it gave us today.