ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — If this NBA thing doesn’t work out for Jeremy Lin — and for whatever it’s worth, it seems to be going just fine, thank you very much — perhaps Lin should look into a back-up career in the world of video. Because Lin sure does seem to enjoy, and be good at, making viral videos. And while the videos of him pranking people are always funny, this latest Youtube video is also great. Here Lin gets a little help from fellow NBA players like Stephen Curry, Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan and Kemba Walker, in this video about how to fit in the NBA…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The New York Knicks were off to a franchise record-worst start. The Charlotte Hornets had lost ten in a row. But despite initial appearances, tonight didn’t do anything to remedy the situation for the Knicks.
Twenty-four hours after losing a close game at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, tonight in Charlotte the Knicks mounted an impressive comeback to hold a one-point lead with four seconds left, only to see their win float away with a lay-up from Charlotte’s Kemba Walker.
And it’s not like the Knicks, off to a 4-17 start and losers of six consecutive coming in, were the only team struggling here. The Hornets, a team tabbed by many to compete for a Southeast Division title, came into this game riding a 10-game losing skid with a 5-15 record. But it all ended in the capable hands of Kemba Walker. (And not for the first time.)
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.
Let’s get to the game-winner…
To be honest, it should have been harder. With 4 seconds left on the clock, the Hornets had the ball out of bounds along the sideline, down one. The Knicks had J.R. Smith — not noted for his defense — guarding the inbounder. And Hornets center Al Jefferson set what was basically a cursory screen on Knicks guard Pablo Prigioni, as Kemba Walker popped free to receive the pass.
And then — and this is the weird part — Walker just dribbled directly down the left side to the basket and shot a lay-up to win it. Amar’e Stoudemire tried to help out and contend against the shot, but his defense seemed more unintentional than anything.
Did Prigioni think he had help behind him? The Knicks had a foul to give, did they think someone was going to take that foul? Did Knicks coach Derek Fisher try to call a twenty-second timeout from halfcourt before the play?
There are more questions than answers. All we know is that Kemba Walker got a layup to win the game.
Both teams needed — desperately — a win tonight. And the Knicks mounted an epic comeback, losing at one point by 21, and entering the fourth quarter down 16, 85-69. But despite the comeback, on that last play the Hornets just seemed to want it more.
Like we said, it was huge for both teams, but Charlotte arguably needed this more than the Knicks. (Ten game losing streak > six game losing streak.) After adding Lance Stephenson in the offseason, the Hornets were supposed to be better than they were a year ago. Instead, they’ve struggled mightily. Someone had to lose, and tonight it was the Knicks. Again.
Walker ended up on his back under the basket, after extending himself to get the shot up and over Stoudemire. When the ball dropped through, Gerald Henderson and Marvin Williams jumped atop Walker and helped him to his feet, and Lance Stephenson arrived moments later. In the clip above, we even get one of those cool long-range crowd shots where you see the entire arena rise to their feet as one when the game-winner drops.
It was a nice play, a nice shot, and nice win for a Charlotte team that needed a win. But it was also incredibly simple, and came during a regular season game. Prigioni seemed to think he had help coming from behind, as Walker basically walked directly to the rim for the winning bucket. I don’t want to discount the skill required to get a shot off over a big man, but to be honest, the Knicks couldn’t have defended the play much more poorly.
So I’m giving Kemba Walker’s game winner 2 Horrys.
What say you? How many Horrys would you give Kemba Walker’s GWBB?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — You can play in the NBA, but you’re not really an NBA player until an opponent dunks on you or drops you with a dribble. So I guess it’s safe to say Bulls rookie big man Nikola Mirotic is now officially an NBA player. Mirotic, who entered the NBA this season following a storied career in Europe, has been terrific early this season for the Bulls, as a big man who is physical but also able to shoot from the outside.
What Mirotic probably should not do, we learned last night, is step outside and try to defend point guards on the perimeter. Or maybe just not Kemba Walker. Because last night the Hornets guard got solo’d up against Mirotic following a defensive switch, and Walker put a behind-the-legs crossover dribble on Mirotic that sent him skidding backward, with nary a touch.
It was so good that, A) Following the game, even Mirotic tweeted about it.
Don't worry guys, my ankles are okay. Just need a little ice 😜😜. Good play by Walker.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — One of Michael Jordan‘s first iconic NBA moments came in the 1989 playoffs, when Jordan hit a jumper over Cleveland’s Craig Ehlo to give the Bulls a series win. After sinking the shot, Jordan celebrated with a vigorous fist pump…
Last night, Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets were down three toward the end of regulation, and Kemba Walker knocked in a huge three pointer to tie it and send it to overtime. And in this video from the crowd, MJ can be seen celebrating. Guess which celebration he brought back (well, a less vigorous version)?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It doesn’t seem like all that long ago, but 2007 was seven years ago, and a lot of players who are in the NBA now were still in high school or college back then. That point was reiterated yesterday when former college basketball player Wesley Witherspoon celebrated Throwback Thursday by posting a pic taken in 2007 at the LeBron James Skills Academy. And while LeBron looks a bit younger then than he does today, what’s really neat is all the guys around him who will eventually make it to the NBA.
See if you can spot Kemba Walker, Greg Monroe, DeMarcus Cousins, DeMar DeRozan and Lance Stephenson…
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”…
In the Southeast, Bobcats guard Walker took another step in his evolution from a shoot-first point to on-court chef. Using his ball-on-a-string dribble, Kemba carved the Pistons’ D with kick-outs to open shooters set up by a crisp two-man game with Al Jefferson. Reserve point guard Ramon Sessions recorded 10 assists of his own. (Further down on the map, John Wall weaved pinpoint passes through the Hawks in Atlanta for 12 in a win).
But the facilitator of the night goes to the Spaniard in the Midwest. Rubio got busy to the tune of 17 assists, dishing a steady diet to Kevin Love (42 points)and Corey Brewer and Ronny Turiaf. He controlled the pill like a wand, harrying the Pacers seemingly with ease.
By no means are these the only superb givers on the night. Rajon Rondo and Trey Burke collected 10 dimes each, James Harden one-upped them with 11 and Kendall Marshall shared in 16 buckets. Marshall has seven games this season of 14 or more assists, tying Chris Paul for the NBA lead. He’s only played 25 games.
Even Phoenix’s P.J. Tucker got in on the milestone act, tying a career high with six helpers.
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.
The Mavericks rolled into Charlotte Saturday with a 16-game winning streak against the Bobcats. Now that streak is at zero, as Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist put the ‘Cats on their back to stop — as my mom would put it — the madness. As for the latter, he proved that two shoes might not be a necessity to finish an incredible play:
Kidd-Gilchrist, the number two pick in the 2012 Draft, isn’t ready to be discounted from the Rookie of The Year discussion just yet.