ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last night a friend invited me to go with him to the Braves/Mets game at Citi Field. I’m a Braves fan, but because I live in New York, I don’t all that many chances to see them play in person. Normally, I would have jumped at the chance…but I hesitated because I remembered last night was also the night of my fantasy football draft. And as anyone who has ever played any fantasy sport — basketball, football, baseball, doesn’t matter — there really isn’t much worse than letting the computer auto-draft your team and winding up with a bunch of players you don’t want, or a bunch of guys who play the same position.
Lucky for me, I was wrong about my draft date — it is tonight — so I was able to get out and enjoy a baseball game on a nice evening. But being present for your fantasy draft sometimes takes extreme measures.
Take, for instance, Golden State guard Klay Thompson, who is currently in Bilbao, Spain, prepping for the FIBA Basketball World Cup as a member of Team USA. Despite being half a world and about a dozen time zones from home, Thompson woke up at 5:30 AM in order to take part in his fantasy football draft. As he wrote in the caption, he doesn’t trust the auto draft. Smart man.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — At practice yesterday for USA Basketball, Sacramento big man DeMarcus Cousins decided to show off his outside shooting range, while declaring himself a candidate to join Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson as members of the sweet-shooting Splash Brothers. Luckily, Curry was nearby to witness Cousins’ audition…
If you didn’t see Sunday’s contest between the Warriors and Trail Blazers, cue up League Pass and grab some popcorn. It was a basketball game, folks.
Things got really good in the fourth quarter. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson shined for 51 points in the second half and in the last five minutes, their beam was almost blinding. Thompson hit two dagger treys in the final minute to finish off a fantastic effort by Damian Lillard and Rip City, as Golden State escaped with a win.
But this play by Steph is worth the price of admission. He outbattles Wesley Matthews for the steal, races down court with the pill, then goes to work on Wes…and the always spunky Portland crowd.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just as important as any great dunk is the celebration that follows. And we aren’t only talking about the way the dunker himself lets the world know he threw down, but the way his teammates get into the act and celebrate. To that end, let’s take a look at a couple of recent bench celebrations and see which bench celebrated best.
1. Detroit Pistons A few days ago the Pistons hosted the Atlanta Hawks, and Pistons big man Andre Drummond got a steal and a dunk on Elton Brand. It wasn’t a dunk on as much as it was a dunk around as Brand tried to deliver a foul. Still, Brand went reeling, making it look worse than it probably was. Either way, as it was down the stretch in a close game, the Pistons bench turned in a celebration for the ages.
And how about that Pistons bench? Coaches and players alike went wild, although it’s always hard to top Pistons assistant coach Rasheed Wallace…
2. Golden State Warriors
Last night against the same Pistons team, Golden State’s Klay Thompson dunked on Kyle Singler. Singler’s legs got tangled or went numb or something, and following the dunk Singler did a stiff-legged stumble into the photographers along the baseline.
It’s a bit tougher to see the bench celebration on this one, but even without Kent Bazemore there to lead the way, the Warriors bench knows how to be explosive after a big play. Watch this GIF of the play and see how the bench shows out. (There’s also the great juxtoposition of the bench getting up as Singler goes down.)
So what say you? Which bench had the better reaction?
Doc Rivers recently said that his starting center DeAndre Jordancarries qualities of legendary center Bill Russell. Though it’s no surprise for coaches to veer into the realm of hyperbole to unlock potential of their players (think of Mark Jackson’s declaration of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson being the best shooting backcourt in NBA history), Rivers isn’t wrong. DJ is springy, he lives on the glass and deters weak and strong forays to the basket alike.
There was another element about Russell. The Lord of the Rings is praised for his ability to turn a block into a turnover, making defense offensive and piling on assists from the defensive end. More than anybody, in the process of altering shots his own way, Russell altered the way practitioners and fans viewed defense on the hardwood.
On Monday night, there were plenty of stout rejections, but it was the Pistons’ young pivot Andre Drummond who demonstrated to a new generation the art of turning a block into a quick two:
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — AHHH. Of course, it happened again. After I lamented Joe Johnson rudely intruding on my vacation with his Game Winning Buzzer Beater last night, of course Andre Iguodala had to get in on this as well. You want a vacation? Suck it up, buddy! Sorry Mom and Dad!
Like I said last night, 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.
And so here we are, with Andre Iguodala tearing me away from movie night with the family to write another Horry Scale post. (BTW, thanks Dre!) Let’s do this…
It was just six weeks ago that Andre Iguodala hit a GWBB to beat the Thunder. This time Andre was the inbounds man instead of setting the pick. He got the ball in to Stephen Curry, and the Hawks immediately doubled Curry. In the circumstance, this seemed like the right thing to do, because, you know, it’s Steph Curry and draining crazy threes is the kind of thing Curry does. Curry made the smart play and hit the open Iguodala, and Dre spun around and, completely unguarded, drained the long three for the win. Jeff Teague made a late charge at him, but it was too little (literally), too late. Simple, smart basketball by the Warriors. And if the Hawks were going to double someone, they should probably have had someone ready to rotate to the shooter quicker than they did.
I grew up a Hawks fan, so I’m used to seeing the Hawks blow close games at the buzzer. That said, with Al Horford injured and out for the season, this is the type of game the Hawks probably aren’t supposed to even be close in, much less have a chance at winning. The Warriors were down 8 heading into the fourth, but they mounted an epic comeback to not only get into the game but to win it with that long last second three. Nice road win for Golden State, tough home loss for the ATLiens.
The Warriors managed to piece together my favorite type of celebration, where they exit the floor as they’re cheering on the shot. Also, Dre appeared to shout out someone in the crowd as he sprinted to the opposite end of the court. (Maybe Harry the Hawk? Spirit the Hawk?) Klay Thompson was gesturing for everyone to get on their feet, even as all the Warriors cleared the floor. Also worth noting, someone in an orange shirt sprinted off the Warriors bench and narrowly missed delivering a shivering chest bump to Iguodala. I’m guessing that was Kent Bazemore, because that seems like a really Kent Bazemore thing to do.
Clutch shot. Not an easy shot, because a three-pointer with the clock ticking down isn’t easy. But then, it was an open shot, and it was the kind of shot Andre Iguodala loves to take, even with the pressure on him. So for those reasons and more, I’m giving this shot Three Horrys…
What say you? How many Horrys does Andre Iguodala’s shot deserve?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — And now the Horry Scale nominees will come fast and furious. After Jeff Green’s game winner just a few days ago, last night’s late TNT game gave us our second nominee of the season, on a last-second shot that didn’t exactly go as planned.
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, let’s check out last night’s game-winner from Golden State’s Andre Iguodala at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder. (By the way, we will not call him Iggy, because he hates the nickname Iggy.)
In terms of basketball fundamentals, Iguodala was able to take a relatively normal jumper — he was moving toward the baseline with the ball in his right (shooting) hand. But we should note here that the play we saw executed was not the play Mark Jackson drew up, according to Iguodala.
Dre said he was supposed to get the ball, fake a dribble handoff to Klay Thompson, who was inbounding, and then look for his shot. And when they lined up for the play, Kevin Durant was assigned to Iguodala. But the Thunder were switching on the play, and when Thabo Sefolosha switched onto Iguodala and basically overplayed as Iguodala cut toward Thompson, Iguodala make the executive decision to cut backdoor — “I took a page out of Kobe’s book,” said Iguodala — and he found room to receive the pass. If nothing else I just love this play as an example of how much happens in an NBA game that is unplanned — these guys are constantly making plays that are based on reads and reactions, and when multiple players are in sync on something like that, it can be a beautiful thing. Sefolosha defended the shot pretty well and recovered enough to get up in Iguodala’s release, but Dre put enough arc on the ball to not only clear the defender, but also take pretty much the entire clock before it splashed home.
It’s worth noting that just seconds before Iguodala’s shot, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook drained a long three-pointer on a broken play to give OKC the temporary 115-114 lead. And frankly, I was a bit surprised Iguodala’s shot was a game-winning shot, because when the ball was inbounded there were 2.3 seconds left. And in the NBA, 2.3 seconds can be an eternity — enough time to catch the ball and run a quick play, or make a few moves even. As the Warriors were inbounding the ball, TNT’s Reggie Miller noted, “A lot of time left for a dribble or two for the Warriors, to get this shot off.” Watching the replays, I’m still not convinced there shouldn’t have been a few tenths of a second added back on after this shot. That is barely any time, I know, but hey, Derek Fisher is on the Thunder, isn’t he?
Let me say this here: I am not perfect. In my breakdown of Jeff Green’s game-winner, I discounted my rating of the shot because I felt like it was such an early-season game that it wouldn’t really have ramifications down the line. And in the comments, you guys upbraided me for not accepting that for the Celtics, beating the defending champs at home was a big deal. Looking back, I probably should have given the Green play a 4. There, I said it. But we don’t choose these things, they choose us, and we just have to move on. So before I go and discount this shot for taking place so early in the season, let’s realize that beating Oklahoma City meant a lot to the Warriors, regardless of the point in the season.
Hitting a dagger at home means built-in celebratory upgrades, such as confetti and a raucous crowd. After the shot connected, Iguodala instinctively sprinted to halfcourt, and the Warriors bench rushed the floor. We also got a shot of a calm, grinning Jermaine O’Neal, surveying the action from the sideline like the old man who’d seen it all and felt proud for these kids. And you think the Warriors weren’t excited? Check out the celebration from owner Joe Lacob…
Fist pumps in a blazer, you guys.
As stated earlier, I caught flack for giving Jeff Green three Horrys, and I have publicly reconsidered my position on that one. For a while I wondered if my legacy here at All Ball would be as the Simon Cowell of the Horry Scale, the tough judge nobody could impress. But nobody likes a meanie, and it’s no fun to have a heart two sizes too small. So for this shot, for reasons outlined above that go above and beyond what was basically a fadeaway jumper, I’m going with four Horrys.
That’s my take. How many Horry’s would you give Andre Iguodala’s game winner?