ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — On Saturday night in Philadelphia, the Memphis Grizzlies engineered a come-from-behind overtime win, beating the 76ers 120-115 behind 36 points from point guard Mike Conley. But apparently it wasn’t enough for Conley to only dominate the Sixers on the floor — with an errant (or well-placed, I suppose, depending) pass in the third quarter, he also managed to perfectly upend a front-row patron’s drink. Head’s up!
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just last week we saw a shot from Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams that fell short, much like the Sixers have done every game this season. Last night, MCW added another play to the Sixers’ struggle highlight reel. This time, MCW drove the paint and kicked the ball to the wing to a wide open…referee. My favorite part is how everyone just freezes when it happens. And at least the ref was Haywoode Workman, a former player.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Things are not going well for the Philadelphia 76ers this season. They have played 11 games, and they have lost all 11 games. This is not a surprise — the Sixers have been very open about their plan to be bad in order to get a top pick in the draft. They have some nice young talent on the roster — Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid — and you’d think they’d steal a win here or there. But looks can be deceiving, and the Sixers have been awful…which at least gives us something to talk about.
So last night against the Celtics, when MCW pulled up for a long three-pointer, then stood there holding his arm high on the follow-through, it looked like it was going to be a great shot! Instead, he got nothing but air. :(
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — While in the Philippines with a group of former NBA players, Allen Iverson was asked if he’d ever consider becoming a coach. This isn’t the first time Iverson’s been asked about this — at his jersey retirement back in March, Iverson said he would consider rec league or high school ball. But what’s great about the clip below is Iverson’s reasoning — can you say, “Practice?”
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — According to the schedule, the official NBA season was already more than a week old coming into Wednesday night. But those of us with the proverbial ice water in our veins and cooler hands than Luke know that the opera doesn’t really start until the sharpshooter slings.
We’re talking, of course, about the Horry Scale, that measuring stick for clutchness, that barometer of bombastic balling, that dagger-falling-out-of-the-sky delight that brings a worldwide community leaping up off the sofas and out of the La-Z-Boys to celebrate in joyous glee.
OK, so in this case it was the close friends and families of the Magic and Sixers. But those who stayed to the end of what was a pretty darned entertaining game between a couple of teams still in search of their first win were rewarded by Tobias Harris.
Before we go any further, what is the Horry Scale? For those newbies, 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 night in November?) and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.
One thing to get straight: 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, everything surrounding and including the shot. In short, it’s about the total package.
On Day Nine of the 2014-15 season, we finally got our first Horry Scale entrant when Harris came off a double-screen to the right side of the floor, caught a nice feed from Evan Fournier and coolly rose up to nail a step-back 18-footer over the outstretched right hand of a just-too-late Luc Mbah a Moute. Harris got a good look because after Fournier took the inbounds pass from Elfrid Payton, he let the play unfold and delivered right on time. Harris caught the ball in rhythm and made a clutch-but-not-ridiculously-impossible shot.
This was hardly Damian Lillard of the Trail Blazers making his 0.9 second special to close out a playoff series last May. In fact, it was a battle of two dead-last, 0-for-the-season teams that were looking for any kind of reason to celebrate. It came following a jumper from the top of the key by the Sixers’ Henry Sims tied the score at 89 with 4.6 seconds left to play. Following a timeout, the Magic executed just the way coach Jacque Vaughn drew it up on the whiteboard, with Harris capping off an 18-point night by delivering the first victory of the season to Orlando (1-4). The Sixers continue on slumping at 0-5.
Let’s just say the Magic bench looked a bit more relieved than delirious to finally get that first notch on its belt. But the guys eventually gave their main man Harris a nice little jumping-jack reception.
Let’s face it, this game had little on the line except personal pride for both teams. A middle of the week game between two sides with a combined 0-8 record at tipoff. As we said earlier, it wasn’t a circus shot or even the kind where Harris barely had time to think. It was cool and perfectly-executed. A nice, overdue beginning, but we’re waiting for something a bit higher up the food chain to start dishing out the big scores.
I’m giving this one two Horrys and leaving room for plenty of improvement and much more significance in the coming months.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s election day here in the United States, so let’s have a poll that allows everyone to vote. This all started last night when I was at the Nets/Thunder game, and Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez made a nice play blocking an alley-oop attempt from OKC’s Lance Thomas. You can watch that play here…
(Also, just for what it’s worth, I had nothing to do with that play being labeled as the “Block Of The Night.”)
At some point later in the evening, I got into a discussion on Twitter with my NBA Digital co-workers Jared Greenberg and Brent Barry about which play was the better block. (I also roped The Brooklyn Game’s Devin Kharpertian into the mix.)
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last season during the retirement ceremony of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cleveland Cavaliers showed off a nifty court projection that appeared to make the static hardwood come alive. This year a couple of other teams have run with the same idea, using a court projection system to give their floor a 3-D look.
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.
A video posted by Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) on
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…)
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A few months ago, comedian and impressionist Frank Caliendo went on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” show and performed a memorable trick: He read LeBron‘s “coming home” essay in the voice of Morgan Freeman. And it was great.
So yesterday they had Caliendo back, and this time he read Allen Iverson‘s “practice” rant in the voice of Morgan Freeman. Practice, man.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The list of NBA players who played their college ball at Georgetown University is long and impressive: Ewing, Mourning, Mutombo, Iverson, Hibbert. And that’s just for a start. The common thread for most of those guys, besides the University itself, is longtime coach John Thompson Jr., who coached many of them (or did his son, John Thompson III).
In the spring, Georgetown announced that it would break ground on a state-of-the-art athletics facility named for Coach Thompson. Since the announcement, several former Hoya basketball players have announced they would be donating money to help make the facility a reality. Last week, Jeff Green kicked in a million dollars, and Patrick Ewing and his longtime agent David Falk joined together to give over $3 million. And then yesterday, it was announced that Pacers center Roy Hibbert would be kicking in a million dollars as well. As Hibbert told the Washington Post, “It’s important for me to give back as much as possible. I actually gave [Thompson Jr.] a call, and then we talked for a little bit today, wished him happy birthday. He was a big part of my development at school. He always said what was on his mind. He was out pushing me to be a better player. Obviously he’s a legend.”
Nice to see these guys willing to give back in such a substantial way.