Posts Tagged ‘Lance Stephenson’

Horry Scale: Solomon is King of the Hill


VIDEO: Solomon Hill’s tip-in at the buzzer puts Pacers over Hornets 88-86

Lance Stephenson made his return to Indianapolis on Wednesday and of course Lance Stephenson’s replacement made the biggest splash of the night. Yes, of course.

In the past, the theatrics for the Pacers, both good and bad, were left to Lance, who then bolted for the Hornets last summer for reasons that still aren’t particularly clear-cut. Meanwhile, Solomon Hill was mainly relegated to bench ornament last season, biding his time, wondering if he could ease the burden, or erase it completely, of Stephenson’s departure. For all of his nuttiness, Stephenson was a dogged player on both ends of the floor who was a valuable chip for a Pacer team that simply couldn’t get beyond LeBron James and the Heat.

Anyway … Stephenson returned to Indy to a mixed reception (booed whenever he touched the ball after a decent greeting), delivered an even performance, and then watched as his night was stolen by Solomon. We say “stolen” because up until the last few seconds, Solomon was rather tame (six points, five rebounds, 38 minutes). And then he gave himself the honor of landing on the Horry Scale, named after the great last-second shot artist Robert Horry, who helped three different teams win seven titles by coming up clutch when asked.

Keep in mind that the Horry Scale measures more than just the game-winning basket. Other factors are weighed that make the buzzer-beater truly epic, or merely run-of-the-mill. Although I think we can all agree that no buzzer-beater is routine. That said, let’s study the scale of Solomon’s biggest moment in the NBA.

DIFFICULTY: This was a fluke mixed with flair, because the play wasn’t designed for Solomon, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time, like Lorenzo Charles when NC State upset Houston. We should point out two things here: The hero was supposed to be Rodney Stuckey, who isolated on Stephenson and totally lost Lance on a step-back … only to launch an air ball. When the ball approaches the rim but doesn’t touch it, some players simply watch the flight. Others react to it. That’s what Solomon did, helped in part by his angle on the play. He was being boxed out rather effectively by Gerald Henderson and found himself under the basket, which gave him a solid vantage point. Here’s where the poetry came into play: Solomon reached, grabbed the air ball with his back to the rim, and flipped it over his head. The ball hung for a split-second on the flat part of the rim before falling through. Look, maybe he misses that shot 6 out of 10 times. This wasn’t one of them.

GAME SITUATION: The Pacers were down 18 early, but after that, the game was tight. What’s really interesting is the Pacers are really flying without a parachute in these situations. All of their proven game-saviors are either gone (Stephenson) or injured and sitting (Pauk George, David West, George Hill). Seriously, who deserves to have his number called in these situations? This is where the Pacers learn something about players who, in the past, were either on the bench or setting picks for the go-to guys mentioned above. Stuckey had moments in Detroit, but not many of them. If anything, the Pacers have been getting some good play from Donald Sloan, and yet this time they went to Stuckey and got Luck-ey. (OK, I’ll stop now.)

IMPORTANCE: This was a pick-me-upper for the Pacers, who understandably and expectedly are struggling to score points and win games without Stephenson and Paul George. Just as well, the Hornets have lost three straight and are reeling since Kemba Walker opened the season in thrilling fashion with a pair of buzzer-beaters himself (end of regulation, then OT) against the Bucks. They’ve gone 3-8 since. Can you imagine the reaction had Stephenson, and not Solomon, put himself on the Horry Scale?

CELEBRATION: The Pacers haven’t given the home crowd much reason to cheer this season, but they did beat Utah (and Butler boy Gordon Hayward) at Bankers Life and beating Stephenson in his return would’ve been worth two victories, in a sense. The building spring to life when Hill’s basket fell through, but beyond that, everyone knew it was one mediocre team beating another.

GRADE: Hill is averaging 12.6 points and 6 rebounds which is very acceptable considering the tough spot in which he was placed. He’s not going to be Stephenson and certainly not Paul George but in a pinch, he’ll do for now. He gets both hustle points and style points for not giving up on the play and also the backflip. That said, this game wasn’t particularly well-played nor did it carry any significance other than Lance. Even Hill was understated in the aftermath. “If it was like the Finals, I probably would’ve run around the building with my shirt off. But it’s a regular season game and we got another one coming up.” So we give it three Horrys, and there’s no shame in that.

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Nobody flops like Lance Stephenson

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — As we’ve chronicled in this space, Lance Stephenson has done some impressive work on the court the last two seasons, particularly when it comes to flopping. (See here and here, for example.) But his latest maneuver may be his best one yet.

In a game against the Warriors this weekend, Lance ran into a screen set by Harrison Barnes. And in what appears to be an attempt to draw a foul, but in actuality is a play for the ages, Lance Stephenson slapped himself in the face…

(via FTW)

Horry Scale: Lance lifts Hornets


VIDEO: Stephenson sinks Hawks at buzzer in 2 OTs

Maybe Kent Bazemore should have blown in Lance Stephenson‘s ear.

That tactic, innovated by Stephenson against LeBron James in last spring’s Eastern Conference finals, might have been enough to throw off Stephenson’s rhythm or aim when he launched his 33-foot desperation heave with time running out in the second overtime Friday night in Charlotte.

Then again, why do anything to wake or rile up the Hornets’ new shooting guard? Stephenson already had gone 0-for-7 from outside the arc in 2014-15 and generally was struggling offensively since joining Charlotte from Indiana as a prized, and surprising, free-agent acquisition in July.

In the end, all Bazemore could do, like the rest of the Atlanta Hawks, was watch in disappointment and extreme fatigue as Stephenson’s hoist banged off the glass and through the rim at the horn. The shot gave Charlotte a 122-119 victory and earned Stephenson a spot not just in the hearts of his new city’s fans but on the Horry Scale.

That’s right, with his game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB), Stephenson shook off a bad two weeks to gain acclaim on this blog’s tribute to one of the NBA’s all-time clutch shooters. Such moments, the lifeblood of NBA excitement whether they occur in June or October, are evaluated according to difficulty, game situation, importance and celebration. Then they get an overall grade, represented with 1-5 Robert Horry stars, in honor of the vagabond marksman who helped the Rockets (two), Lakers (three) and Spurs (two) capture seven titles in his years with them.

We reiterate, the Horry Scale does not measure only a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a GWBB. 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, the total package

DIFFICULTY

Thirty-three feet – the official distance listed in the NBA’s official gamebook afterward – ain’t easy. But there wasn’t anything outrageously athletic or instinctive required here. Stephenson passed the ball inbounds to Marvin Williams near the top of the arc, then ran to him to take the handoff. Kyle Korver, Stephenson’s man, switched off and stuck with Williams, while Bazemore – forced to scramble to the perimeter in chase of Williams after big Paul Millsap switched onto little Kemba Walker – got there a tick too late.

Stephenson, a bundle of raw skills, rose up, kicked his feet behind him and flicked his shot as if calling the bank all along. It caromed in as Bazemore’s right arm, raised to contest but too late and too far, stayed in the air as the gym erupted.

GAME SITUATION

Everybody in the joint – players, coaches, referees, fans – was nearing the end of his or her 58th minute of basketball. They all were ready to go home, with only the Hawks’ traveling party resistant to the idea of it ending right there, right then. After all, they’d had their own chance to win it with 2.7 seconds left, except that Korver got called for an illegal screen as Atlanta inbounded, flipping the script in Charlotte’s favor.

Walker had missed a chance for his own GWBB at the end of the first overtime, rushing across midcourt and firing a long 3-pointer that wasn’t close. Late in the second OT, he never got the ball to the rim, firing it into Al Horford‘s arm pit in a botched move that turned out well; it was ruled a shot-clock violation, allowing first Atlanta (Korver’s bad screen) and then Charlotte again to try for heroics. Stephenson was the one who snagged some.

IMPORTANCE

A key clash in the Southeast Division? That didn’t involve the 2010-2014 Miami Heat? Guess we’d better get used to it. Besides, Charlotte had dropped its last six home games against Atlanta and was eager to assert itself in the division, backing up its victory Wednesday over the Heat.

CELEBRATION

Never underestimate Stephenson’s knack for the grand gesture, the look-at-me grab of the spotlight. As soon as he hit his banked 3-pointer, Stephenson scowled, shrugged off the grabs and slaps of teammates and vaulted onto the scorer’s table. He beat on his chest and mouthed all sorts of adrenaline-fueled invective as the other Hornets hauled him back down to the court and mobbed him.

A bonus came from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist‘s smiling mug – with gauze shoved up both nostrils. Earlier, he had gotten whacked in the nose when he ran smack into a Horford pick. He had been bloody and angry in that moment, but he was a happy Hornet chasing after Stephenson when it ended.

GRADE

Stephenson needed this. The Hornets, who had gambled on the mercurial Pacers guard when he hit free agency without all that much clamor in the market, needed it too. Though he had averaged 10 rebounds and 5.6 assists to rank among the league leaders in both categories through his first five games, Stephenson was sputtering along at 6.6 points while shooting 12-of-45 to that point. He had scored in double figures, reaching 14, only once.

This time, Stephenson finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while logging 47:11 in his busiest work night since signing with Charlotte. Had his offensive troubles continued, NBA media surely would have revved up the what’s-wrong-with-Lance angles and perhaps plunged Stephenson into an even greater funk. So the timing of this, for getting him on track in what the Hornets intend to be a meaningful season, hardly could have been better. Give it four Horrys.

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We see you, Lance Stephenson

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The New York Knicks lost their first game this season, 104-80, at the hands of the Chicago Bulls. Since then, however, they’ve been rolling, knocking off the Cleveland Cavaliers, and then last night squaring off against the upstart Charlotte Hornets. They played a close game against Charlotte and ultimately hung on for the win. And as the clock was winding down, as Knicks coach Derek Fisher was strolling the sideline, Charlotte’s Lance Stephenson decided to pop up for a visit.

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(via r/NBA)

Charlotte Hornets introduce biggest burger ever


VIDEO: Lang at Barclays

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — This summer the Charlotte Hornets went out and, building on last season’s success, signed Lance Stephenson and Marvin Williams, setting themselves up as contenders on the court. And they’re also stepping up their game in the…kitchen?

Food options at NBA games is a big deal, as you can see in the video above from Barclays Center in New York. And the Hornets may have jumped into the lead among people seeking calorie explosions with their new option, Hugo’s Boss Burger, which features 8(!!!) pounds of meat and costs $70…

The Hornets’ main competition for NBA food supremacy may come, ironically enough, from the defending champs Spurs, who late last season introduced a sandwich covered in onion rings.

Your move, Cleveland…

Lance Stephenson picks up where he left off

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — All Lance Stephenson wants to do is win basketball games — he made that clear to us during the Hang Time Road Trip when he boarded the bus in Philadelphia. And in that pursuit of Ws, Lance is willing to do whatever it takes to make them happen. Does this mean that sometimes Lance goes too far? Perhaps, but wouldn’t you rather have someone try to hard than not try at all?

Last season during the playoffs Lance caught a fine for flopping, and on this play last night, Lance seems to once again exaggerate the contact just a bit, unless Kirk Hinrich has been on some kind of secret workout plan.

(via B/R)

LeBron hangs with future NBA players in 2007

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

Hang Time Road Trip — Day 4

HANGTIME_PASSENGER

By Lang Whitaker

NEW YORK CITY — Day Four of the Hang Time Road Trip is in the books, and man, it was quite a day.

We were supposed to arrive in Philadelphia early in the morning, with enough time to for all of us to take showers and clean up before we headed to the Wells Fargo Center to bank some more interviews. But because of an accident on the Pennsylvania turnpike, we spent an few hours stuck in traffic and rolled into our hotel in Philly with barely any time to spare. So Sekou Smith, Rick Fox and I ran in and grabbed some showers, while the crew did their best to get clean with whatever options were available to them. Here, our super producer Gregg Waigand brushed up in the parking lot.

We then hustled over to the Wells Fargo Center, where, for the first time all week, the sun blessed with us an uninterrupted presence. After the early winter in Cleveland and Chicago and the rain in Indianapolis, it felt awesome to just spend a few seconds basking in the sun. (more…)

Paul George and Roy Hibbert go fishing

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We know the Pacers like to go fishing — and I mean that in the literal sense, not in terms of losing during the playoffs. Last season, while stumbling through the playoffs, Pacers players Roy Hibbert, Paul George and George Hill actually went fishing to help get away from it all and have some fun.

This summer hasn’t been great for the Pacers, either. Lance Stephenson left to play in Charlotte, and Paul George suffered a compound leg fracture while playing for Team USA that will keep him out for at least the upcoming season. So how to get away from it all? Why not go fishing?

That’s what George and Hibbert did yesterday. Well, first Hibbert sat in George’s Ferrari…

Then they got in a boat and went fishing…

Hang on to your hat, Roy…

The Pacers take Lance Stephenson to the movies

Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards: Game Six

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — When the clock struck midnight last night on the East Coast, NBA free agency kicked off. For many teams, at least at that initial moment, this means putting in a call to a player’s agent to register some level of interest.

But the Indiana Pacers were apparently not messing around. With their do-everything swingman Lance Stephenson hitting free agency, the Pacers decided to go all out and let him know how important keeping him is to their future plans. So, according to the Indy Star, the Pacers rented out a movie theater. Really.

Sometime shortly after midnight Tuesday, Lance Stephenson will be seated with his family and friends in a movie theater. The lights will go down and the ‘Born Ready’ life story will flash before Stephenson’s eyes on the big screen.

Inside the entertainment complex based in suburban Indianapolis, the Pacers’ commitment begins in earnest where a private party will be held and a love letter set to moving pictures will play with the hopes of keeping Stephenson. The movie will feature moments from when Stephenson arrived in Indiana to the point he is now, a potential Eastern Conference All-Star and a key figure in a core that can compete for a title. After midnight, however, the real picture of Stephenson’s future will take shape.

Will it be enough to keep Born Ready in Indianapolis? That remains to be seen…