Last night, the Washington Wizards got over the .500 hump for the first time in four years by beating up on the Portland Trail Blazers. Early in the contest, Nicolas Batum took the liberty to pull something that I’ve never seen done before in an NBA game.
Batum didn’t pilfer the pill from any co-worker. He picked arguably the game’s best power forward and three-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. To his defense (odd word to use here), Batum could have been protecting the rock from a lurking Trevor Ariza, who is a known ballhawk. Or he could have just wanted the ball and was enterprising enough to take it, teammate or not.
To make matters worse, he bricked the subsequent trey ball and left a host of questions in the aftermath.
Was this his way of showcasing his displeasure of being an All-Star snub? Will this be brought up in the Blazers’ film study session? Does it technically count as a pass? Was Batum inspired by Carlton Banks? Only Batum knows.
Sometimes, defending the other team is just not enough.
BROOKLYN – Earlier this week, I spent an evening shadowing Nathaniel Butler from NBA Photos as he photographed the Trail Blazers-Nets game in Brooklyn. During the game, Butler gave me a camera and let me shoot the action. What follows are some of the images I took that night, with my thoughts and comments below each picture. These pictures have not been cropped or color-corrected or anything else. This is what I shot … for better, or for, probably mostly, worse.
As the Blazers took the floor to warm up directly in front of me, Nic Batum started hoisting 15-footers from the right wing. I picked up my camera, zoomed in a bit, half-pushed the button down to make sure the image was focused, and then fired off the shot. What I didn’t account for was that Batum would jump when he shot, so my photo chopped off his arms and the ball.
Once the game started, sure enough the Nets ran a play to get Kevin Garnett a shot at the top of the key. I saw the play developing and as soon as KG caught the ball and squared up, I took this picture. Unfortunately, as you may notice, I managed to capture all of the players out of focus. But the basket support and the fans in the front rows are crystal clear. Also, terrific job by me to cut off the shot clock. (more…)
One of the few bright spots for the Wizards has been Crawford, who is the team’s leading scorer. It hasn’t been all awful for Washington lately — entering Monday night’s game, the Wizards were 3-2 in the five games since Wall’s return and notched a win at the always-tough Pepsi Center in Denver.
Portland has seen better days. The Blazers were in the midst of a five-game swoon entering Monday. Nicolas Batum recorded his first career triple-double, but that was of little consolation in a nail-biting loss to the Wizards. How did Portland lose this one? Blazers fans, pick the moment. Was it Damian Lillard‘s dunk over Nene that pulled the score to 91-90 with 2:21 left? Was it Wes Matthews‘ game-tying 3-pointer with 7.9 seconds left that tied it at 95? Or was it Crawford’s game-winner that crushed any hopes of victory? We’ll get into all of this soon.
For those that 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.
How does Crawford’s shot Monday night stack up? Let’s take a look. (more…)
Looks like we missed one of these during the regular season when we were on vacation, but can’t let the playoffs get too far gone without acknowledging LaMarcus Aldridge‘s handiwork before his season-ending hip injury.
For those that 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 Clippers-Nets game), and celebration, and give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys.
The Blazers had a tough season, losing many, many players to injury, but at least we know one night ended happily. What’d Horry have to say?
Medium-difficulty shot. Aldridge gets the ball pretty far out on the perimeter with his back to the basket. He gets a nice little shoulder into Brendan Haywood as he makes his move towards the paint, creating some space for a step-back jumper. LA is one of the sweetest shooting big men in the game, so I’m not surprised he cans this one. I know you got bumped a little there Brendan, but a little more effort there on the contest might have been nice.
Tied 97-97 in overtime, the Blazers have just 3.7 seconds left to make something happen. Just enough time to get the ball to Aldridge and let him go to work.
This game was played on April 6, at which point the Blazers were still very much alive for the 8th spot in the Western Conference playoff race. So yeah, a pretty important win. Unfortunately Aldridge would be lost for the season just a few days later, and Portland would be lottery bound.
Portland is an awesome place to hit a game-winner. And though the Blazers were away from the friendly confines of the Rose Garden, they still get a nice huddle going on the Mavericks’ homecourt. A tip of the cap to the sportsmanship of Nic Batum, who ended up smack-dab in the middle of the Mavs’ bench when the shot dropped, but refrained from preening as some might have.
2 Horrys. A tie game, a somewhat easy shot (though LA’s smoothness deserves a lot of credit for making it look so) makes this one a little on the pedestrian side. I’ll give it 2 though for the potential playoff implications at the time and for doing it to the (since departed) defending champs on their home court.
What do you think?
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As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.
With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart. Up next, the Denver Nuggets, who for the second time this season played three straight, this time from Feb. 2-4.
The Nuggets are the first team this season to take on the three for all challenge twice (12 teams will do it more than once this season). The first time around they put up six points, due in large part to winning the last two games of the challenge, and were a Danilo Gallinari bunny away from sweeping the thing altogether. We’re a month longer into the season, and the Nuggets have played pretty well overall. Could they do even better this time around? Let’s take a look.
Game 1: Nuggets 112, Clippers 91 - A terrific start, getting a win at Staples Center against the up and coming Clippers. Denver’s rep this season is as one of the deepest teams in the league (thanks in part as we all know to the Carmelo Anthony trade, which they seem to have gotten the better of so far and by a longshot), and they used that depth against LAC, putting five players in double figures, led by Gallinari’s 21, and three more chipped in with eight. 3 points (1 for the win, 1 for +10 margin, 1 for road)
Game 2: Lakers 93, Nuggets 89 - In a weird schedule quirk, the Lakers comprised 50% of the Nuggets’ three for all challenges — Denver played them twice the first time around and once in this edition. Once again it came down to the wire, but Al Harrington missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds and the Lakers held on. -1 point
Game 3: Blazers 117, Nuggets 97 - The Blazers have been nearly unbeatable at the Rose Garden this season, and with Denver gasping for air in the last night of the challenge it’s no real surprise how this one turned out. Nicolas Batum hit nine 3s on his way to a career-best 33 points for Portland. 0 points
So we see almost a perfect negative of the Nuggets first threeplay — a win followed by two losses instead of a loss followed by two wins. 2 total points for Denver, and thankfully no more back-to-back-to-backs for the rest of the regular season.
Up next: The Utah Jazz and Miami Heat both play three straight Feb. 12-14.
With the regular season behind us and the playoffs set to tip off this weekend, it’s the perfect time to do a little looking back at some of the fun we had during the past six months.
One of our favorite things to write about on All Ball has been the Horry Scale breakdowns of every GWBB (game-winning buzzer-beater) from the season, of which, in the end, there were 16 during 2010-11. Let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable:
Best Executed Horry
One of the most unlikely endings to a game all season, as Nic Batum scores four points in the last 0.9 seconds to beat the Spurs, the last two of which came on this picture-perfect lob off the inbounds pass from Andre Miller to ring up the Horry Scale breakdown. Portland’s Rose Garden would be my choice for where all GWBBs would take place, if I had my druthers. Where does one get druthers, I wonder? Runner-up: Andrew Bogut – really this should be a tie, I just love Portland celebrations.
Nicolas Batum‘s tip-in GWBB is the second this season off an inbounds lob, following Andrew Bogut‘s heroics for the Bucks against the Pacers back in December. I continue to marvel at this play’s success — when there is less than a second left, the lob towards the basket seems like something the defense has to account for. The Spurs put Antonio McDyess on the inbounds pass, which does make the lob a little more difficult, but didn’t put anyone near the basket, and they paid for it with the loss.
Of course, the Spurs’ mistake should come as no surprise, as San Antonio did pretty much everything in its power to hand this game to the Blazers down the stretch with a collection of turnovers and mistakes. I’m curious how many players have scored four points in the final second of an NBA game — maybe I can get StatsCube master John Schuhmann to look into it.
Once again, the Horry scale examines a shot in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Clippers-Nets game), and celebration, and give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys.
How did Tricky Nic do? Let’s investigate:
This was a very difficult play and a very simple one all at the same time. On the one hand, you only have 0.9 seconds to work with, so the lob has to be right on the money to allow Batum to get the shot off (technically there is enough time allowed to catch and shoot, but practically speaking the tip-in is Batum’s only choice). On the other hand, Batum has at least a six-inch advantage on Tony Parker, so he meets with very little resistance once the lob arrives. I think that’s nitpicking though — Andre Miller is generally recognized as the best lob-tosser in the NBA*, and he puts this one right on the money, making a very difficult play look very easy.
*After the game, Miller would say it was the best pass he’d ever thrown.
Tie ballgame, but with extraordinarily unique circumstances. Think of all that had to go wrong for the Spurs to lose this game. Leading by four with half-a-minute remaining, both of the Spurs’ best ballhandlers (Parker and Manu Ginobili) get their pockets picked, allowing the Blazers to tie the game after a Miller layup and then a pair of Batum free throws with 0.9 left. Then, Steve Novak throws an errant inbounds pass, the third San Antonio turnover in 30 seconds, with no time running off the clock to boot, setting Portland up for a final crack at it. Maybe the game was tied, but it sure didn’t feel like it.
Not to say that Dallas is a team to be trifled with, but the win keeps the Blazers a half-game ahead of the Hornets for the 6-seed in the West, which keeps them (for the moment) from facing the Lakers in the first round. Portland also remains only 1.5 games behind Denver for the 5-spot, so all in all a very big win.
Man – is there a better arena in the NBA for GWBBs? The fans at the Rose Garden always seem right on top of the court, and the crowd goes ballistic as soon as the ball drops through.
4.5 Horrys. Between the amazing comeback, the perfectly-executed lob, and the outstanding celebration, I have to give this one pretty high marks. I’ll only take off half-a-Horry for the fact that it was a tie game, but otherwise, this one had it all.
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