ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The New York Knicks are hot right now, winning back-to-back road games over the Thunder and the Rockets, and looking as though their rebuilding project is working about as well as could have been hoped. In fact, the only time anyone was able to slow down the Knicks last week came off the court.
Check out this Vine from Friday night, where Jose Calderon is leaving the floor and a fan offers up a congratulatory pound…only to yank it away at the moment of impact, leaving Calderon bubbling…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Juuuust when you thought we were out, they go and pull us back in. The season may be just past the halfway mark, but our record-setting pace is continuing, as tonight Dirk Nowitzki did his dagger-shooting thing to beat the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
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 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 this shot down…
DIFFICULTY I feel like this is the part of this play that will be most overlooked. Yes, it was just a jump shot, and as far as play designs go, it wasn’t exactly the most complex play Rick Carlisle has ever inked out. But man was that a hard shot. I mean, if Carmelo Anthony was any closer to Dirk he could have untied his shoes. Dallas got the ball in to Dirk at top of key with the score tied at 108 and just 7.3 seconds left to play. Dirk caught the ball with his back to the basket, singled up against ‘Melo. Using his left foot as a pivot, Dirk rotated a full 360 degrees while ‘Melo sniped at the ball. He finally dribbled one time with his left hand, and jabbed his right foot forward just a bit to create a few inches of space. And with Carmelo basically chest-to-chest, Dirk raised up and released that textbook jump shot over ‘Melo with just under 2 seconds remaining. The ball hit the glass, the front of the rim, popped up into the air, and then gently settled back into the bucket. Again, not the most aesthetically pleasing play, but good grief what a tough shot.
GAME SITUATION This was perhaps an even tougher pill for Knicks fans to swallow because of the game situation. After being a mostly back-and-forth affair all evening, the Mavs seized the lead down the stretch. But give the Knicks credit for clawing back, mostly behind 44 points from ‘Melo. Down 6 with 1:12 to play, the Knicks got a three-point play from Chandler, a steal, and a three from Melo to tie the game at 108. Dallas had won 9 of 12 coming in, including two straight on the road. With the Knicks still clinging to hopes of getting into the playoffs, tonight was the kind of game they really had to win. To lose on a shot that bounced all over the rim before dropping in must be tough. But then, the Knicks have been on the other side of a similar situation before, right Allan Houston?
CELEBRATION Dirk seemed to mostly keep his cool, because this ain’t Dirk’s first time at the big shot rodeo. I loved the way Jose Calderon took off on a sprint up the court as the shot went through, and he grabbed Dirk in a bear hug to celebrate. Also, of late I’ve tried to incorporate fan reaction into the ratings, and Knicks fans did not disappoint, as you can see several of them with their hands to their heads in the background as the shot drops through.
So it may not have been the best play design, but it was still a tough shot. It may not have been the most momentous game, or the most spirited reaction, but all together it was a pretty good play. So I’m going to go with three Horrys for this one…
What say you? How many Horrys would you give Dirk Nowitzki’s GWBB?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I can not tell a lie: It has been a season of highs and lows here at Horry Scale Central. We began the season with three Game-Winning Buzzer-Beaters within seven days, a flurry of activity to make even the most jaded NBA watcher’s head twirl. This required me to write three Horry Scale posts in succession, which turned out to be a controversial endeavor. Folks weren’t happy with my rating of the Jeff Green GWBB, which kept me up very late at night, triggering some difficult and genuine soul searching, at least as far as you know. Since then I have perhaps tried to overcorrect with some of my other ratings, a maneuver that has in no small part generated its own share of controversy, and which has caused something of an existential Horry Scale crisis.
But I digress. 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 turn our tired eyes to the lovely Pacific Northwest. Let’s check out last night’s game-winner from Monta Ellis…
Monta Ellis has made tougher shots in his career, probably even in this game. This was basically a catch-and-shoot on a curl coming around a screen, a shot Ellis has taken thousands of times in his life. And Ellis made a clean catch, swung around the screen, and had a wide open look at the basket. And yes, he drained the shot, so kudos to him. To me the most interesting thing on this play was that the Blazers did not switch defenders on the screen. In the NBA, for the most part defenders always switch on picks in the last few seconds of a game, and particularly on an inbounds play. This is not only easy for the players on the floor to remember, in a more general sense it means defenders are always running at the ball when there are only seconds to play. But as Ellis came around the series of screens, Portland’s Wesley Matthews tried to stay with him, with no real help waiting for him. (As my main man Ben Golliver reports on Blazers Edge, Portland had decided before the play to only switch guard-on-guard screens. Dallas’ other guard on the floor was Jose Calderon, who was inbounding the ball, so the Blazers all knew there would effectively be no switching.) By the time Ellis caught the pass, curled around the pick from DaJuan Blair and popped free at the top of the key, Portland’s best defensive option may have been LaMarcus Aldridge, who was flat-footed about six feet away from Ellis. Matthews made a last-second swipe at the ball from behind while trying to recover, but he couldn’t make a difference.
What you don’t see in the clip above is the clutch three-pointer Lillard made to tie the game with 1.9 seconds remaining. That play was set up by a Dallas turnover from, you guessed it, Monta Ellis. So in many ways this GWBB was about redemption for Monta. Still, once Dallas got the ball with the game tied, it seemed like it would probably be Dirk Nowitzki time, right? Even in the video above, as the Mavs line up for the play, you can hear Portland analyst Mike Rice note, “Watch [DaJuan] Blair set a pick for either Vince Carter or Dirk.” So Dallas coach Rick Carlisle using the situation to run a play for Ellis was not only in retrospect a wise choice, it was crafty, as well.
This was big on both sides. The Blazers had been riding a four-game winning streak, and had amassed eight straight wins at home. The crowd in Portland, which is always among the best in sports, was rowdy and sold out, twenty-thousand strong. The Mavs, meanwhile, after an offseason that was quieter than most expected, have been something of a mild surprise this season, bobbing along a couple of games above .500. Any road win in the NBA is a good thing, but a road win over the best team in the Conference is always a great thing.
The Mavs seemed really fired up by Ellis’ shot, surrounding him and grabbing him. Also, I’m pretty sure someone ran off the Dallas bench and hit Ellis with a large cushion at about the 19-second mark of the video. I particularly enjoyed this facet of the celebration: The cushion bash needs to become a regular part of post-shot celebrations.
I think we can all agree that the degree of difficulty wasn’t through the roof, at least just as a jump shot, in a bubble. But all the other parts of this play — Ellis’ earlier turnover, Lillard’s game-tying three moments earlier, Portland’s home win streak, Dallas’ execution on the final play — give added weight to the play. This is one of those situations where I wish we had half-Horrys to award, because I really feel like this is a 3.5 Horry Play. Should I round up or down? That’s another discussion for another day. In this case, I’m going with four Horrys, because for me the post-shot cushion bash lifts it from three to four…
That’s my take. How many Horry’s would you give the Monta Ellis game-winner?
At the trade deadline in February, Jose Calderon was traded from the Toronto Raptors to the Detroit Pistons. Tonight, he visited his former digs, the Air Canada Centre, to presumably prove to old team why they shouldn’t have traded him. After a riveting tribute to his accomplishments moved him and halftime arrived, he…walked to the Raptors’ locker room?
Unluckily for us, his amnesia was short-lived. Calderon scored 19 points along with nine dimes to topple his former mates and, in a fit of irony, officially eliminate them from playoff contention.
A sad day in the NBA, as Ricky Rubio‘s sensational rookie season comes to an end thanks to a freak knee injury suffered at the tail end of Friday night’s loss to the Lakers. Rubio has been even better than advertised in his rookie season, and his dazzling passing and infectious enthusiasm will be sorely missed.
This has been a tough season for all the players due to the compressed schedule, and we’ve seen many good players go down with injuries as a result. And as sad as I was when Hawks’ C Al Horford went down, for example, I don’t think any player’s misfortune has been as widely met with dismay as Rubio’s has. Just take a look at the outpouring of support on Twitter from some of the NBA’s zeitgeist when the news broke today:
LeBron James (@KingJames) — S/O to Ricky Rubio! Have a speedy and successful recovery
Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) — Praying the Ricky Rubio has a speedy recovery!
Dwyane Wade(@DwyaneWade) — Ricky Rubio’s injury isn’t 1 that any basketball fan wanted 2 C. He’s had an amazing rookie season & has brought life back 2 a franchise. Chris Paul (@CP3) — Prayers out to @RickyRubio9 and hoping for a speedy recovery!
Kevin Love (@kevinlove) — Love my teammate and friend @rickyrubio9. Here’s to a quick recovery. We will miss you.
The recovery time for Rubio’s injury usually takes 6-9 months, which means he will likely miss this summer’s Olympics as well — a big blow to the Spanish national team’s chances. His Spanish mates chimed in as well:
Pau Gasol (@paugasol) — All my support to my friend and mate @rickyrubio9 after knowing the hard news about the results on his knee injury. Rudy Fernandez (@rudy5fernandez) — All my support to my friend and mate @rickyrubio9 Jose Calderon (@josemcalderon8) — All my support to my big friend and teammate @rickyrubio9. Hard news about his knee. He’ll be back stronger
Several other NBA players offered their prayers and condolences:
Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) — Prayers to Ricky Rubio. Keep your head up and hoping for a speedy recovery. #Classof09
DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) — A speedy recovery to Rubio! Mario Chalmers (@mchalmers15) — prayers goin out to @RickyRubio9. No NBA player wants to go thru that. keep ya head up and get that knee stronger Baron Davis — (@Baron_Davis) Rubio smh. Damn ! Praying for you! Wishing you a speedy recovery. You will be stronger than ever!!!! DeAndre Jordan (@deandrejordan) — praying that @rickyrubio9 has a speedy and complete recovery… Greivis Vasquez (@greivisvasquez) — Que triste la lesion de Ricky Rubio, le deseo una pronta recuperacion. Anthony Tolliver (@ATolliver44) — Praying for @rickyrubio9 ! Extraordinary healing is coming your way! Keep your head up
There aren’t many players in the league with the kind of court vision and offensive creativity that Rubio possesses. Here’s to a complete and total recovery, and hopefully a full season in 2012-13.
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