ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The players on the Oklahoma City Thunder are not only very good at basketball, they’re apparently great at selling cars. Last year we saw several of them doing their best to get you in a new vehicle, and this year’s version of the ad has a new wrinkle: Helium.
Now, officially, I strongly discourage you from sucking helium from a balloon, because it’s probably a bad idea or something, but it’s pretty funny to hear these guys talking like Smurfs…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Throughout this season, perhaps you’ve seen our ongoing series, The All Ball Posterized Poll. In those posts, we examine which NBA players have been victims of the most vicious dunks.
We are proud to continue the tradition of highlighting the best of the best (and worst) with the new All Ball Crossover Contest. From time to time, we will check in and look at some of the best ankle-breaking dribbling exhibitions we’ve seen. We want to see the greatest moves, of course, but we also want to take note of who got shook.
So who broke out the best crossover in this edition of the Crossover Contest? We culled this selection of videos, and NBA.com’s Zettler Clay is providing the written commentary to accompany what you see.
Check out the videos below and vote at the bottom of the post …
NORRIS COLE ON DERRICK ROSE Zettler Says: I know, Derrick Rose was only minutes into his first game back from an ACL tear. Still, as Avon Barksdale accurately summed it up, the game is the game. Norris saw an opportunity and made a quick decision. We’re rooting for a full recovery for Rose, if only for a chance at redemption, because this move is nasty.
JOHN WALL ON TERRENCE ROSS Zettler Says:John Wall hits Terrence Ross with the double. If you were to ask for defining Wall plays to teach to youngsters, this would lead the reel. A stutter step to freeze Ross, then a crisp crossover followed by another, followed by speed to the cup. Great read, timing and execution.
STEPHEN CURRY ON REGGIE JACKSON Zettler Says: There’s nobody else in the NBA that could pull this move off, save for Jamal Crawford and Kevin Durant. Curry’s ability to quickly set his feet after a move combined with his deadly deep aim gives his crossover another element. No spot on the court is safe for any Steph defender.
DERON WILLIAMS ON CHRIS PAUL Zettler Says: Classic end of half isolation clash between two of the league’s best. What gives this play flair is the stealthy rivalry between these two players since they entered the NBA in 2005, one pick behind each other (D-Will was the third pick, Paul fourth). On this night, multiple times, the third pick had the upper hand.
J.R. SMITH ON TRISTAN THOMPSON Zettler Says: This is just Earl Joseph Smith III doing his thing. Thankfully Tristan Thompson took an unnatural fall, which not only made the play pop, but saved his ankle. If he doesn’t hit the deck, his talus is broken. Believe.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — And we’re back. Not even five weekdays since Randy Foyeroused us on a quiet Monday evening, and the Horry Scale has been awakened by a rim-rattling dunk from Orlando’s Tobias Harris.
One thing I’d like to clear up: The Horry Scale does not measure a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a Game-Winning Buzzer-Beater. 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. So when I gave Randy Foye a 3 Horry rating, that wasn’t only a reflection of his shot, which was admittedly remarkable, as I wrote, but also the play, which was awful. Taj Gibson’s lefty layup wasn’t the toughest shot, but that inbounds play was terrific. Basically, everything matters.
Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain why we’re here: What is the Horry Scale? For those who 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.
OK, so you understand? For our records, this is the fourteenth GWBB this season, so our record-setting pace continues unabated. for now, let’s break this shot down…
It was an undefended dunk, the kind of dunk Tobias Harris has probably converted hundreds or even thousands of times in his life. But I doubt he’s ever put one down with literally no time left on the clock. After Kevin Durant missed his jumper that would have put Oklahoma City up 3, Victor Oladipo out-fought Thabo Sefolosha and Reggie Jackson to corral the ball, and by the time Oladipo had it and was heading up court, there were just under 4 seconds remaining. Even though they had a timeout remaining, the Magic played on and took advantage of the numbers. In the next four seconds, Oladipo dribbled the length of the court and got into the paint, where Jeremy Lamb stepped up to cut off his drive. Lamb left Maurice Harkless alone on the baseline, and Oladipo hit him with a bounce pass. Harkless caught the ball with 1.5 seconds remaining, and immediately dished it back to a trailing Tobias Harris, who dunked it home with no time remaining. It was a terrific pass by Harkless, but it was as gutsy as it was fundamentally sound — with such a miniature amount of time left, this game was pretty close to ending with Harris a couple of inches away from a GWBB. But he made it, and the Magic won in thrilling come-from-behind fashion.
The Thunder had an 8-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but the Magic outscored them 23-14 in the fourth to get the W. There were two things about the situation around this particular play that stuck out to me: 1. Durant shot the ball with about 3 seconds left on the shot clock. I know he was able to get to one of his preferred spots on the court, at the free throw line extended, which is a shot he makes more often than not. But if he’d been able to wait just a second longer, the Magic wouldn’t have had the time to grab the board and do what they did. 2. The Thunder had a small lineup in at the time, and when Durant’s shot went up, Serge Ibaka was the only member of the Thunder anywhere near the rim in a rebounding position. And the long bounce from the miss then took him out of contention for the rebound.
Now that’s a celebration. With no time on the clock, the Magic players knew they could celebrate, so the bench guys rushed the court. The camera work became shaky, like something out of a movie. Harris received a trio of chest bumps, ending with a thunderous hug from Big Baby Davis. Also, you want to see what disbelief looks like? Check out the Thunder bench…
As I wrote above, and I hope you remember this, IT ISN’T ONLY ABOUT THE SHOT. It’s about the entire play, and the accumulated circumstances surrounding the shot. As a dunk, in a vacuum, for an NBA player it wasn’t the most difficult shot. But put everything together, including a lottery team playing the best team in the West, and making a shot while down a point to win the game, and it was a pretty epic play for the Magic. I can’t give this 5 stars, only because this is a regular season game and I have to be able to still go up from here once we reach the playoffs. So instead, I’m giving this 4 Horrys, the same grade to which I retroactively rated Jeff Green’s season-opening shot.
What say you? How many Horrys would you give Tobias Harris’s GWBB?
1) Cunningham and Reggie Jackson were completely in sync from blast-off to the point of contact. The distance he — and Jackson — covered alone is enough athleticism to make your head spin. Do yourself a favor and click pause five seconds into the video.
2) He had to time his jump perfectly to avoid missing the block or fouling Jackson. Speaking of which…
It hasn’t been the easiest time for the Denver Nuggets. Injuries to Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, JaVale McGee, an eight-game losing streak and a bizarre Andre Miller-Brian Shaw feud has rendered their season’s course rocky.
But one constant has been the Manimal, the dreadlocked warrior born by the name of Kenneth Faried. Is he an offensive juggernaut? Uh-uh. Does he make the occasional boneheaded play? Uh-huh. It doesn’t matter…because he gives you one thing that negates any of his negatives.
He gives you highlights. On Thursday night, the Thunder came into town and the Nuggets thoroughly dismissed them. But as the saying goes, you can’t make an omelet without cracking some eggs and Oklahoma City broke a few on Faried:
Though Durant broke his right ankle and Jackson threw down a basketball on his noggin, his sticktoittiveness shouldn’t be lost. He may get stuffed by John Wall at the rim, but he’ll make the game-saving block and game-winning bucket in the same game. All evidence points to a man who stays focused on his vengeance, one fast-twitch stride at a time.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — One of the only drawbacks to the Thursday night games on TNT is that if anything funny or wacky happens, there isn’t really enough time for it to make it into that evening’s version of Shaqtin’ A Fool. Take last night, for instance, where a simple loose ball ended up with a referee getting wiped out along the sideline.
As Oklahoma City’s Reggie Jackson and Chicago’s D.J. Augustin chased down a ball, instead of trying to actually grab the ball, Jackson instead chose to just screen Augustin out of the way. This caught Augustin off-guard and, in turn, sent him sprawling toward the Bulls’ sideline, directly into the legs of veteran referee Michael Smith. Despite going down hard, Smith was able to finish the game.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Chicago’s Derrick Rose has been back from injury and playing well throughout this preseason, but if you really needed a moment to convince you that Rose is just as dangerous on the court as he was before his injury, check out this move that he broke out last night against Oklahoma City point guard Reggie Jackson.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last summer, Oklahoma City PG Reggie Jackson might have had the dunk of the Orlando Summer League when he drove the lane and threw down on then-defending dunk champ Jeremy Evans… -
So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that this summer, Reggie Jackson is again in contention for dunk of the summer with this dunk from this morning, contested by Orlando’s Maurice Harkless… -
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — As part of our continuing hard-hitting series celebrating the best in local advertising, let’s take a moment to say farewell to the Oklahoma City Thunder. After losing star PG Russell Westbrook in the first round to injury, the Thunder soldiered on without him, even winning a game against the Grizz in dramatic fashion, but eventually, the Grit-N-Grind Grizz sent the Thunder fishing.
But before they go home, let’s take a moment to recognize the Thunder supporting cast who did their best even if it wasn’t quite enough — guys like Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison and Reggie Jackson. They may not be headliners like Kevin Durant and Westbrook, but that doesn’t mean they can’t move product, as we see from their performances here in this ad from a few months back for Norman Chrysler Jeep and Dodge.
And hey, I’d like to see you try to get Perk to sing “that goofy song.” Good luck with that. -
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 Oklahoma City Thunder, who played three straight from Jan 6-8.
It took six tries, but we’ve finally seen a team pull off the undefeated three-play. I actually wasn’t sure we’d see a team survive the gauntlet all season, but as @tasmelas pointed out on Twitter last night, so far teams are undefeated in the third games of the stretch. Go figure.
Game 1: Thunder 109, Rockets 94 - Seems to me a big leg-up in handling these stretches is getting off to a fast start in Game 1 so you can conserve some energy. OKC led this game by 17 at the break, and barely broke a sweat in getting the home win. 2 points (1 for win, 1 for +10 margin)
Game 2:Thunder 98, Rockets 95 - Playing the same opponent on consecutive nights (we’ve seen the Nuggets and Lakers do this already), the Thunder get a 17-point contribution from Nazr Mohammed (unlikely) and some clutch shooting down the stretch from Kevin Durant (quite likely) to hold off the Rockets on the road. The only downside was losing Eric Maynor to a knee injury in this game, most likely for the season. 4 points (3 for win, 1 for road)
Game 3:Thunder 108, Spurs 96 – Oklahoma City finishes in style with another impressive double-digit win, and shows why so many have them pegged as NBA Finals participants for this season. You may think this team is all Durant and Russell Westbrook, but the OKC bench had three players in double figures in this game, including 11 and four assists from rookie Reggie Jackson, who stepped in in place of the injured Maynor. 6 points (5 for win, 1 for +10 margin)
The Hawks reign was short-lived, as the Thunder finish one point shy of the max they could earn given their schedule, and assume the top spot with 12 total points.
Up next: The Minnesota Timberwolves get their Rubio on with three games in a row Jan. 8-10: at Washington, at Toronto, and home to Chicago.