ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — You’re an NBA player, it’s the middle of a long NBA season, and you have a day off. So what do you do? If you’re Russell Westbrook, Derek Fisher or Kendrick Perkins, over the weekend you visited the Oklahoma City Zoo to lend a hand at the sea lion exhibit. There’s a lot to like here. My favorite part might be where a sea lion kisses Kendrick Perkins and he says he’s hopeful he can get a picture of the moment to put up in his office.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Here at the All Ball Blog, we like to recognize whenever someone makes a game-winning buzzer beater (GWBB) by breaking out something we call the Horry Scale to try and give each shot some perspective. I’ve taken my lumps from you guys this season, as I’ve tried to figure out just how many Horrys to dole out for each shot, but that’s fine: What I love about the Horry Scale is that you, our readers, love these shots as much or more as we do. You understand how improbable and how exciting they are, and you like celebrating them along with us.
That said, Horry Scale shots have to be game winners with 0.0 remaining on the clock. Which is why some last-second shots this season have not qualified — I think Russell Westbrook has made two shots to win games, but both times there were fractions of a second remaining.
The other rule that is not explicitly stated but clearly implied, is that Horry Scale entries have to be NBA game winners. Otherwise I’d be over here writing about high school and college games all day and night.
With that stated, the following shot does not qualify for the Horry Scale, since it took place in a Euroleague game between Anadolou Efes Istanbul and EA7 Emporio Armani Milan. But it was a former NBA player, ex-Nets point guard Zoran Planinic, who took the incredible shot. Anadoulou Efes Istanbul was down 2, with about 2 seconds left when Planinic launched from three-quarter court. And, well, check it out… -
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s late at night, I’ve got one full day of vacation staring me in the face, and before I drift off to bed, I’m thinking about the last few things I’d like to accomplish (a long nap tomorrow, not doing chores, etc.) before heading back to the blizzard in NYC. And then Joe Johnson does it again. The Brooklyn Nets needed a win in the worst way, and who better to turn to than Joe Cool?
I know we usually air these posts out a bit, but this one is going to be a bit more to the point, because, you know, vacation. But 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.
One other thing before we move on: I’ve received a few emails from Blazers fans and Thunder fans wondering why I had not done Horry Scale posts for their teams when Lillard and Westbrook have hit game-winners. My reasoning is sound: Those guys have hit game-winners, yes, but they both left tenths of a second on the clock. And as we all know from reading the rules above, we are looking for shots with 0.0 remaining on the clock.
Which leads us to Joe Johnson…
The toughest part of Joe’s game winner was having the 6-10ish Serge Ibaka guarding him. But the rest of the shot was the same kind of shot Joe’s been knocking down his entire pro career. He inbounded the ball to Kevin Garnett, who handed it back to Joe, and then you can see all the other Nets clear out of the way and just let Joe do his thing. I’ve often said that if Joe Johnson were in a one-on-one contest against any other NBA player, I think he’d fare pretty well, because he’s terrific at using his dribble and his size to nearly always get his shot off. And this instance was no exception.
More like season situation. The Nets have famously been something of a mess this season, and the recent season-ending injury to Brook Lopez led to many thinking it was time to put the final fork in the Nets (if we hadn’t already). So to say they needed a win not just on this night but to give life to their season is no understatement. And I’m pretty sure nobody thought that win would come on the road, against the mighty Oklahoma City Thunder.
Rowdy. Even moreso than on Johnson’s previous game-winner this season. Of course, even though this isn’t an overtime finish, the Nets probably have more at stake now than they did a few weeks back. They’ve been knocked down, but they got up again.
We’ve had a run of 4 Horry scores of late, and I think it’s time to break that streak. While the shot over the bigger defender was impressive, it was a basic jumper in a one-on-one setting. So I’m giving this three Horrys…
What say you? How many Horrys does Joe Johnson’s GWBB deserve?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Even if your stocking was filled with coal, NBA fans got a pretty nice day of presents yesterday with a great slate of games on Christmas Day. There were improbable shots, crazy outfits — the works, really. And, perhaps most noticeably, there were some awesome dunks (including at least one player-submitted dunk). So here at the All Ball Blog, we decided to ask you: Who had the best Christmas Day giving-and-getting combination?
THE HEADQUARTERS — As the Stylistics eloquently put it, payback is a dog and Russell Westbrook has packed the meanest bite of the young NBA season.
After a thrilling finish in the Bay Area a little over two weeks ago, when Westbrook and Andre Iguodala traded clutch baskets, we knew the rematch would be a battle. What competitor doesn’t crave get-back after coming up short?
Consider it a mission complete by Westbrook, who couldn’t have served a colder dish than his turnaround 3 in OT with 0.1 seconds left to lift OKC to a 113-112 win. This time, he didn’t give anybody a chance to return the favor.
He started the game hitting his first five shots, then went 4-for-19 until his victory-snatching snipe. In a game that featured 20 lead changes, 32 points from Stephen Curry, a poster dunk from Serge Ibaka, this game had “Game of the Year” written on it before you-know-who ended matters.
Best game, best shot, best celebration? Yes. Yes. Affirmative. And yes, you want to mark January 17 in your calendars.
The shot alone is enough to catapult Russ to the peak of the Top Plays mountain. What adds to it is what came directly before. Ibaka missed a foul-line jumper at the top of the key and Jermaine O’Neal was a simple rebound away from securing possession and most likely the game for Golden State. But he didn’t box out and that’s all Westbrook (who flew in from the 3-point line) needed to knock the loose ball away from a surprised O’Neal.
Thabo Sefalosha tracked down the rock andmade a blind save to a springing Westbrook, who in a flash snatched the ball out the air with his right hand, took one dribble toward the 3-point line, looked left, whirled right and launched before a scrambling Harrison Barnes could give a good contest.
(Actually, Barnes did get a hand up. Westbrook just got a clean look first).
The dejected look on Barnes (13 seconds into the above clip) is the perfect flip side to the pandemonium surrounding him.
BONUS: Luckily, a fan caught the emotional moment from an excellent courtside angle.
Which was better? Both were done in the midst of a blowout and both were completely unexpected. I’m going with Iguodala because of the original factor and the lessened margin of error of being in the corner. But Stephenson’s dime did count for three points on the board…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — And now the Horry Scale nominees will come fast and furious. After Jeff Green’s game winner just a few days ago, last night’s late TNT game gave us our second nominee of the season, on a last-second shot that didn’t exactly go as planned.
Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain. 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.
With the rules in place, let’s check out last night’s game-winner from Golden State’s Andre Iguodala at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder. (By the way, we will not call him Iggy, because he hates the nickname Iggy.)
In terms of basketball fundamentals, Iguodala was able to take a relatively normal jumper — he was moving toward the baseline with the ball in his right (shooting) hand. But we should note here that the play we saw executed was not the play Mark Jackson drew up, according to Iguodala.
Dre said he was supposed to get the ball, fake a dribble handoff to Klay Thompson, who was inbounding, and then look for his shot. And when they lined up for the play, Kevin Durant was assigned to Iguodala. But the Thunder were switching on the play, and when Thabo Sefolosha switched onto Iguodala and basically overplayed as Iguodala cut toward Thompson, Iguodala make the executive decision to cut backdoor — “I took a page out of Kobe’s book,” said Iguodala — and he found room to receive the pass. If nothing else I just love this play as an example of how much happens in an NBA game that is unplanned — these guys are constantly making plays that are based on reads and reactions, and when multiple players are in sync on something like that, it can be a beautiful thing. Sefolosha defended the shot pretty well and recovered enough to get up in Iguodala’s release, but Dre put enough arc on the ball to not only clear the defender, but also take pretty much the entire clock before it splashed home.
It’s worth noting that just seconds before Iguodala’s shot, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook drained a long three-pointer on a broken play to give OKC the temporary 115-114 lead. And frankly, I was a bit surprised Iguodala’s shot was a game-winning shot, because when the ball was inbounded there were 2.3 seconds left. And in the NBA, 2.3 seconds can be an eternity — enough time to catch the ball and run a quick play, or make a few moves even. As the Warriors were inbounding the ball, TNT’s Reggie Miller noted, “A lot of time left for a dribble or two for the Warriors, to get this shot off.” Watching the replays, I’m still not convinced there shouldn’t have been a few tenths of a second added back on after this shot. That is barely any time, I know, but hey, Derek Fisher is on the Thunder, isn’t he?
Let me say this here: I am not perfect. In my breakdown of Jeff Green’s game-winner, I discounted my rating of the shot because I felt like it was such an early-season game that it wouldn’t really have ramifications down the line. And in the comments, you guys upbraided me for not accepting that for the Celtics, beating the defending champs at home was a big deal. Looking back, I probably should have given the Green play a 4. There, I said it. But we don’t choose these things, they choose us, and we just have to move on. So before I go and discount this shot for taking place so early in the season, let’s realize that beating Oklahoma City meant a lot to the Warriors, regardless of the point in the season.
Hitting a dagger at home means built-in celebratory upgrades, such as confetti and a raucous crowd. After the shot connected, Iguodala instinctively sprinted to halfcourt, and the Warriors bench rushed the floor. We also got a shot of a calm, grinning Jermaine O’Neal, surveying the action from the sideline like the old man who’d seen it all and felt proud for these kids. And you think the Warriors weren’t excited? Check out the celebration from owner Joe Lacob…
Fist pumps in a blazer, you guys.
As stated earlier, I caught flack for giving Jeff Green three Horrys, and I have publicly reconsidered my position on that one. For a while I wondered if my legacy here at All Ball would be as the Simon Cowell of the Horry Scale, the tough judge nobody could impress. But nobody likes a meanie, and it’s no fun to have a heart two sizes too small. So for this shot, for reasons outlined above that go above and beyond what was basically a fadeaway jumper, I’m going with four Horrys.
That’s my take. How many Horry’s would you give Andre Iguodala’s game winner?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook‘s injured knee not only kept him off the court the first few games of the season, it kept him from being a full participant in the NBA Style wars that have been ongoing for years now. Sure, he was able to participate in New York Fashion Week, but that’s nothing compared to what happens when NBA teams walk from their bus to their locker room and are caught on camera.
But now Westbrook is back and healthy, and not only is he throwing down coast-to-coast dunks, but a sure sign that he’s back is that he’s breaking out collarless zebra print zip-up jackets as part of his pregame wardrobe…
So Russell Westbrook has been pronounced the “Kate Moss of the NBA.”
It’s quite the compliment considering it comes from Vogue entertainment editor Jill Demling, who happens to be a sports junkie. Funny, because the Oklahoma City Thunder star, as NBA fans have come to learn over the past couple seasons, happens to be a fashion junkie.
That’s why he was in New York for Fashion Week and sitting courtside, if you will, at Friday night’s Rag & Bone Show with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, only the most powerful person in fashion and who seems to have taken an interest in the fashion stylings of the eclectic point guard.
“Russell is part of a newer generation, players that take fashion as a real badge of cool,” said Jim Moore, creative director for GQ in a New York Times article that chronicled Westbrook’s whirlwind fashion tour. “For years and years, you had that Pat Riley and Michael Jordan idea of off-court style; they were all going to the same tailors and they were almost getting too fancy with it.”
Westbrook says he got his fashion sense from his mother Shannon. He said she always dressed nice and wanted him to as well. Her fashion sense rubbed off, he said.
“The shows, as an experience, have been amazing,” Westbrook said, noting that stepping out of the basketball scene and meeting designers “was refreshing.” … “It was a learning process for me, to be able to see the shows from a different point of view.”
For Westbrook, who continues to rehab from knee surgery in April, this jaunt to Fashion Week wasn’t just about being seen and wearing ultra-hip outfits. The article says he’d one day like to have his own line of clothing.
Maybe he can start with a re-design of the Thunder’s road unis. That could be interesting.
The only thing more entertaining than the first week of the NFL so far has been NBA players’ reaction to it. And what better way to cap an extended weekend of madness than the NBA brotherhood taking out the Redskins Monday night meltdown/Eagles ascension on renowned Washington fan Kevin Durant.