ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Look, we’ve heard since we were kids that there’s nothing more dangerous than running with your shoes untied. So it’s understandable that when Milwaukee guard O.J. Mayo‘s shoelace became untied during last night’s Bucks/Nuggets game, he needed to get it re-tied as quickly as possible. But deciding to re-tie the shoe during the middle of a defensive possession, while play was going on all around him, seemed to be a curious choice. Luckily Mayo’s man wasn’t involved with the play.
If it seems like the Horry Scale has weighed the Blazers more than few times since we started this venture back in 2010, it’s not that far off. By our count, Portland has been on the Horry Scale — either as the Horry-er (aka the shot-maker) or as the Horry-ee (aka the victim) — three times, including once this season, entering Tuesday’s action. The Blazers’ mark in those Horry situations? They’re 2-1 … but let’s make that 3-1 after LaMarcus Aldridge went to a reliable Horry shot to sink his hometown Mavs.
If Aldridge’s game-winner last night that you see above looks an awful lot like another recent Horry shot from him, you’ve got a sharp memory. Just a little more than a year ago, Aldridge victimized the Mavs in Dallas with a fadeaway jumper at the horn over Brendan Haywood. Haywood has since moved on to Charlotte, but that didn’t stop Aldridge from victimizing another Mav (with a similar-sounding first name), Brandan Wright, with a nearly identical shot.
Of course, it takes a team effort to set the stage for a shot like Aldridge’s and the Blazers needed everyone’s effort on Tuesday to get into a spot where they could win this game. The Mavs essentially had the Blazers finished after building a 69-48 lead off O.J. Mayo‘s stepback 3-pointer with 8 minutes, 37 seconds left. By late in the fourth quarter rolled, though, we had a lead-changing frenzy.
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 Aldridge’s shot Tuesday night stack up? Let’s dive in …
At times to the chagrin of Blazer fans, Aldridge has made his All-Star bones as a perimeter shooter, so it’s fitting he’d favor that shot to clinch a victory. Shot selection is key when there’s 1.5 seconds to go, so kudos to coach Terry Stotts for putting Aldridge in position to succeed. Much like his shot against the Mavs in 2012, Aldridge sets up on the low post. Unlike against Dallas, though, Aldridge knows he doesn’t have time to move out to the perimeter, catch the ball and take two dribbles to set up his shot. So he gets position on Wright, receives the ball from inbounder Wesley Matthews, turns … fades … and that’s the ballgame.
For Dallas, Mayo provides token pressure on the inbounds, Vince Carter stays at home with Nicolas Batum on the left baseline, making this a one-on-one situation for Aldridge. Darren Collison appears to try and help Wright from underneath, but he can’t get there in time.
Overall, this is an All-Star-vs.-rotation-player situation, and not surprisingly, the All-Star gets what he wants. Wright defends it pretty well, but Aldridge knows what he’s doing here.
Tie ballgame between two low-to-mid-level West teams … not a shocker, right? Wrong. As we mentioned, the Blazers were down 21 in the third and looked cooked. Portland’s bench won’t win any productivity awards this season, but without those reserves, the Blazers wouldn’t have won. Big contributions from Sasha Pavlovic and Ronnie Price in the fourth quarter kept the Blazers ahead or tied with the Mavs down the stretch. No play was perhaps bigger for that crew than Price drawing a charge on Mayo with 1.5 seconds left.
The Mavs weren’t without their own displays of clutch-itude, what with Collison banking in a wacky 3-pointer with 3:01 left and Dirk Nowitzki draining what at the time seemed to be a back-breaking 3-pointer with 11.9 seconds left to give Dallas a 104-101 lead.
Teammates Nicolas Batum (a Horry Scale inductee himself in 2011) said Aldridge was “smiling like a rookie” after hitting his shot. Aldridge, who starred at the University of Texas and Dallas-area high school Seagoville, simply turns and looks at the Mavs’ bench a little before laughing, smiling and walking up court. Matthews chest bumps him first before everyone short of ex-Blazer James “Hollywood” Robinson comes running toward him from the Blazers’ bench to celebrate.
There’s one last huddle up and then the Blazers head out to the locker room.
4 Horrys. Tough shot for most players, but pretty routine for Aldridge. This one kind of ranks up there in importance with the J.R. Smith shot against the Bobcats earlier this season in that the defense gave a standout player just the kind of shot he wanted. Overall, it should be three stars. But I give it that extra star bump for the clutch-iness of Aldridge in not just nailing the game-winner, but also the game-tying shot, too. If that’s not the sort of thing Horry used to do, I don’t know what is.
Often times on the hardwood, there is a thin line between luck and skill. Perhaps if the ball bounces off O.J. Mayo’s head before landing in Kevin Martin’s hands, the degree of difficulty on this play goes up a tad:
Apparently, Martin has no regard for national holidays.
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For the complete Bragging Rights rules and to vote for other matchups, click here. In this matchup the UConn Huskies, a top seed with 11 NBA players to choose from, take on the USC Trojans. Veal Scalabrine for everyone!
Missed the cut: Caron Butler, Mavericks (injured); Charlie Villanueva, Pistons; A.J Price, Pacers; Hilton Armstrong, Hawks; Hasheem Thabeet, Rockets; Jeff Adrien, Warriors
Team synopsis: Wow. A dynamite scoring team for the boys from Storrs. This team is sort of the anti-LSU — all guard play with only Emeka there to patrol the paint. No real headaches in trying to determine their best lineup, though I suppose one could argue a spot for Charlie V due to UConn’s lack of size. Caron Butler would be in over Ben Gordon if healthy, but he’s missed too much time this year to be eligible. How you would stop Allen and Hamilton, two of the best shooters of all-time coming off screens, is anyone’s guess. (more…)
Honestly, do I even need to break out the scale for this one? If Tyreke Evans‘ game-winner doesn’t rate a five, then what on earth ever will?
Still, for thoroughness, let’s break it down.
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.
Difficulty: Ummm, yeah. I guess it could have been harder. He could have closed his eyes. He could have had to recite The Charge of the Light Brigade before letting it fly. He could have been, oh, 55 feet from the basket rather than 50. But I’d say any shot from beyond midcourt should satisfy any toughness quotient. For the record, he also double-clutched. Criminy.
Game Situation: The Kings got the ball with no timeouts left after O.J. Mayo hit a jumper with 1.5 seconds left to give Memphis a 98-97 lead. By the way, am I the only one who thinks Mayo traveled like a railway hobo? Thank goodness they didn’t call it, or we’d never have gotten to enjoy this one.
Importance: Sacramento is in a mess of trouble right now. Poor play, questions about team management’s future, questions about the team’s viability in Sacramento … yeah, I’d say the Kings could use a night like this, regardless of its overall impact on the standings (or lack thereof).
Celebration: O.M.G. Watch Donte Greene‘s reaction on the Sacramento bench — he gets in a couple hops before the shot even went in! It’s like he has ESPN or something. Evans immediately hops onto the scorer’s table to take a much-deserved bow to the home crowd. What an ending.
5 Horrys. NBA, consider the bar officially raised for the rest of the season. You are going to have to really step up your game if you want to top this one. I’m talking Guilford College-level amazing if you want to beat it. An unbelievable ending, and a terrific night for the Kings in the midst of what has otherwise been a maddening and frustrating season.
What do you think?
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If you are like me, you have presumably waited until the last minute to decide what to dress as for Halloween this year. If you are also like me, working with the NBA so much has made it almost impossible to come up with costume ideas that don’t somehow relate back to my day-to-day activities (ok, that probably doesn’t apply to you as much).
With that in mind, here are 10 costume ideas for you to consider before heading out to trick-or-treat on Sunday night: