Each Thursday here on the All Ball blog, we will take a look at an NBA player and the way his style has evolved through the years. Today we check in with New York Knicks F Amar’e Stoudemire. Check the gallery below, and remember to use #nbastyle to further the conversation on Twitter.
In the two seasons we’ve had the Horry Scale up and running, we’ve never encountered a game-winning buzzer-beater quite like the one we saw in Houston last night.
As a refersher, here’s the rules on what makes an Horry Scale shot:
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.
All well and good, the rules above, but they don’t quite address how to handle James Harden‘s shot last night, which ended up being good … only because the Suns’ Jermaine O’Neal reached up and goal-tended it at the last second. Technically, Harden gets credit for the 3-pointer and the game-winning shot, but it’s definitely one of the more odd Horry Scale entries we’ve ever encountered.
We’ll attempt to break this puppy down and give it a fair shake on the Scale, but be warned … this isn’t your usual ending to a Horry Scale, so the rating might not be what you think it is.
How does Harden’s finish Tuesday night stack up? Without further ado…
Not exactly a tough shot for Harden. Fellow backcourt-mate Jeremy Lin inbounds the ball to Harden with 9.1 seconds left and he dribbles the clock down to 1.9 seconds before hoisting a 3-pointer over a decent contest by second-year forward P.J. Tucker. The Suns play this shot pretty well, as Tucker gives Harden space early on and closes out on the shot while teammate Jared Dudley leaves his man to provide an additional hand in Harden’s face. The jumper caroms high off the back iron and looks like a brick. But then, Jermaine O’Neal — a 16-year veteran and former six-time All-Star — goes up to get the ball on its second bounce. The only problem? The ball hit the rim when it fell and O’Neal swats if off there, constituting a goaltending call and a win for Houston.
To expound on why O’Neal went up and batted the ball away, The Arizona Republic‘s Paul Coro caught up with the Suns big man after the game, who explained his actions thusly:
Suns center Jermaine O’Neal has played in the NBA for 17 seasons and never has seen a team lose like how his team did Wednesday night.
…After a Suns timeout, O’Neal was blocked by Omer Asik inside and Scola missed a scoop shot to set up Harden for the buzzer 3. It hit back rim and then the front rim before O’Neal hit it after the buzzer.
“Jermaine O’Neal touched it while it was in the cylinder,” official David Jones said. “The ball was on the rim and in the cylinder. He doesn’t go up through the net.”
O’Neal said he thought the ball had come off the rim and he was trying to prevent a Rockets tip-in. Coach Lindsay Hunter said he will need to re-examine the rule after the explanation he received.
“But there were a lot of other calls that were quite questionable leading up to that,” O’Neal said. “So I guess you put that with the rest of them. Especially in the fourth (quarter), there were some calls that I’m not quite sure about.”
Can’t say that makes what O’Neal did any clearer. When does preventing a tip-in require goaltending a shot? Isn’t that the same (or worse) than allowing a tip-in in this situation?
Greg Smith rebounded Luis Scola‘s missed jumper with 16.9 seconds left — a shot that would have given Phoenix a 100-98 lead — and calls timeout to set up the Rockets’ play. The score is tied at 98 when the wild sequence between Harden and O’Neal happens.
Heading into Tuesday night, the Suns had already tied the 1987-88 squad for the second-most losses in the single season in team history. Another defeat would move this current iteration of the Suns into sole possession of the second-worst season in team history. You can almost hear Suns fans cheering over that one. But a loss keeps Phoenix in the running with Orlando and Charlotte for a good chance to land the No. 1 pick in the 2013 Draft, which is perhaps what the Suns need more now than victories.
The Rockets had a chance to lock up their first playoff berth in four seasons on Saturday in Denver, but got waxed by the Nuggets. A return to the Toyota Center, where Houston was 27-11 entering last night, and a win over Phoenix would realize Houston’s playoff dream. While Houston is the No. 7 seed in the West, it remains a game behind Golden State for No. 6 and a chance to avoid either the Thunder or Spurs in the first round. In short, a win is something Houston needed for more than one reason.
After the officials review the play, the Rockets get to celebrate, but there isn’t much video proof of it. There are a couple of great Getty Images of Houston celebrating with Harden once his shot is ruled good, but the whole review of the last shot kind of sucks the fun out of any happy time.
1 Horry. The last time we had a 1-star shot on the Horry Scale? It was back on March 27, 2011, when Jameer Nelson hit a pretty boring game-winner against the Nuggets in Orlando. Much like that shot, Harden’s was a mediocre-at-best shot that had just as good of a chance of rimming out (had O’Neal not helped out unintentionally) as it had of going in. Still, the Rockets will take the win (and the playoff berth) that comes with the game-winner no matter how it happened.
The Horry Scale rules clearly dictate the following:
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.
That means Wes Johnson‘s game-tying, at-the-horn, send-it-to-OT, miraculous 3-pointer (especially given his career 33.8 percentage from 3-point range) in San Antonio last night is nothing more than a great shot:
Since his playing days ended in 1998, Chambers has been inducted into the Suns’ Ring of Honor and serves in a community relations role with the franchise while also chipping in on some Suns game broadcast duties.
As part of those duties, Chambers headed over to the Phoenix Convention Center for the third annual Amazing Arizona Comic Con. We could get into all kinds of descriptions of what Chambers saw and encountered, but watching the video says plenty. Enjoy:
No one will confuse the 2012-13 Phoenix Suns with a legit title contender, but they haven’t been as awful as some thought they’d be this season. At 3-4, they’ve beaten the teams they probably should (Cleveland, Detroit and Charlotte) and lost to the ones they probably should have (Utah, Miami) and taken losses in two others that were a toss-up (Orlando and Golden State).
Still, the memories of Steve Nash directing coach Mike D’Antoni‘s Seven Seconds Or Less offense are still somewhat fresh. Don’t forget about that great small forward they had too … what was his name … oh yeah! Shawn Marion. In remembering those days, though, Suns fans also recall the way those peak D’Antoni-Nash-Marion-Amar’e Stoudemire teams used to routinely falter against the Spurs, Mavs and Lakers in the West playoffs.
Since those glory days, D’Antoni has been hired (and fired) by New York, Marion was traded to Miami, Stoudemire bolted as a free agent for New York and Nash skipped town, too.
All that to say: is there any fan base that’s seen more of their icons tied to different successful eras leave more often than Phoenix has?
Consider these Suns icons who left town:
Paul Wesphal, a three-time All-Star in Phoenix and the leading scorer on the Suns’ 1976 Finals runner-up team, was dealt to rival Seattle in the summer of 1980. The Sonics, at the time, were easily one of the most dominant teams in the West and had won it all in 1979. Westphal, who coached Phoenix to the ’93 Finals, also coached Seattle in the late 1990s. Double-ouch.
Charles Barkley won the MVP in 1993, led Phoenix to The Finals that season and is, perhaps, the most well-known Sun ever. He forced a trade to Houston in 1996 so he could chase a ring with Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, who were key pieces to the Rockets’ last title team in 1994-95. That ’94-95 squad ousted a 59-win Phoenix team in the West semis.
Marion, he of the great nickname (“The Matrix”), was a four-time All-Star in Phoenix before the O’Neal trade. That opened the door for his trade to Toronto, which led to his eventual signing as a free agent with the rival Mavs in 2009. Dallas won the whole thing in 2011.
You name it, Nash did it for Phoenix. Yet in the summer, the chance to be closer to his children and have a good shot at a ring made the Lakers the easy pick. Need we explain the Suns-Lakers rivalry?
D’Antoni’s Suns exploits are many, but is there any worse place he could have landed for Suns watchers than the L.A. Lakers? Sorry to break the news …
Look around the NBA’s history and every so often you’ll see an MVP (Karl Malone to the Lakers) or a Finals MVP (Chauncey Billups to Denver) or an overall franchise face (Chris Paul to the Clippers) get moved or sign elsewhere. But it’s hard to think of a team outside of Phoenix that has seen more iconic players either move on or be moved on to chase a ring elsewhere.
In tonight’s Heat-Suns contest in Miami, offense was not scarce. For the Heat, it was downright abundant. And when the Heat’s offense is abundant, it’s a decent chance LeBron has something to do with it.
On a particular play early, LeBron got out on the open court. This is usually when the opposing team stops pursuit because, well, one would have a better chance of holding greased lightning than chasing down ‘Bron on the break.
But chase down ‘Bron on the break Marcin Gortat did. The result? Shin, meet court. Court, shin.
Can certainly not fault a man for trying.
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Not to step on the toes of our venerable rookie guru and Rookie Ladder proprietor, Drew Packham, but we think last season’s rookie class might have gotten off easy in one regard. A season ago, when the lockout trimmed training camp to a week, teams had to hustle just to get ready for the marathon, 66-game season.
This time around, though, teams have the usual month or so of training camps to work on offense, defense, strategy … and afterward, rib their rookies in good nature.
The Suns might be the first ones out of the gate with documented proof of the traditional rookie backpack. For the uninitiated, the rookie backpack is not to be confused with Kevin Durant’s famous backpack from Oklahoma City’s 2011 playoff run. No, the rookie backpack is there for one reason: constant humiliation.
Rookie Kendall Marshall doesn’t seem phased by having to tote around a Justin Bieber backpack for the rest of the season. Just take a gander at what he told Suns.com:
Training camp is as much about building relationships and camaraderie as it is about hard work, fundamentals and conditioning. That’s why it was about as shocking as someone having a drink on Mad Men– not at all — that after Tuesday evening’s practice the veterans decided to have a little fun.
Under the direction of the elder statesman Jermaine O’Neal, center Marcin Gortat surprised rookie Kendall Marshall with a little something he can wear around the rest of the week.
“They told me after the first practice that they had a surprise for me,” Marshall explained. “My response was ‘good or bad?’ They wouldn’t tell me. They said ‘we have a gift for you.’ They pulled it out and it’s a Justin Bieber bookbag. I feel like I can pull off the J-Biebs.”
Eight seasons. Two MVPs. Many deep playoff runs. The joy that Steve Nash brought to Phoenix for so many years came to an abrupt halt this summer when he was re-signed and then traded to the rival Lakers in one of the offseason’s most jarring roster moves. All that will be left for Suns fans are memories of Nash speeding up the US Airways Center court, dashing past that familiar “PHX” basketball logo at midcourt to set up for another exciting, up-tempo offensive set.
A completely fresh coat of paint has been applied to the Suns’ roster for 2012-13. Along with Nash, Grant Hill,Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick, to name a few, have been shipped out. So it may not be surprising, as Suns.com reveals [below], that the US Airways court itself will have a whole new look next season.
Other franchises have undergone similar court/jersey changes around the time a franchise player skipped town. The most notable may be the Cavs in the post-LeBron James era. (Remember, they played on this court and in these unis during the LeBron heyday … and now they’ve gone to this court and these unis).