VIDEO: Burke GWBB
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The Knicks finally scored 100 points in a game this season. Unfortunately for them, Trey Burke and the Jazz weren’t quite finished.
Tonight’s Jazz/Knicks game presented two teams with similar journeys ahead of them. The Jazz have a young roster with a young coach and expectations bubbling. The Knicks have a superstar forward (Carmelo Anthony) and president (Phil Jackson) but have a way to go as they implement the triangle offense.
The Knicks entered the night having lost six straight, for a 2-7 record, and had yet to score 100 points in a game this season. The Jazz had a similarly sub-par record, coming in at 3-6, and in the midst of a five-game road trip. All of which culminated in tonight’s big finish by Burke.
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 thing I’d like to clear up: The Horry Scale does not measure only 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 last season, 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 inbound play was terrific. Basically, everything matters.
Let’s get to the game-winner…
With 2.3 seconds left on the clock, the Jazz didn’t have to rely on a catch-and-shoot. Two-plus seconds is enough time for at least a dribble, maybe even a pass.
But it looked as if the play wasn’t even drawn up for Burke to get the shot. Burke began in the far corner and set a screen for Gordon Hayward, who already had 33 points on the night. Hayward popped to the top of the key and looked to receive a pass. But Knicks forward Quincy Acy denied the look to Hayward, just as Burke flashed to the ball around the free throw line. Burke caught the ball, dribbled left into the corner, and fired up a fadeaway jumper over J.R. Smith, who was all over Burke and contested the shot well. But Burke cleared just enough space with a step-back move to release the jumper, and he drilled the shot as the buzzer was ringing.
Smith actually defended fine on the play — he went under three separate screens and stuck to Burke on the shot. Burke had to make a perfect play just to clear room for the shot. And Burke played it perfectly.
After squandering a last-second attempt earlier in the week, when J.R. Smith eschewed a pass to Carmelo Anthony to fire up a three, tonight the Knicks cleared out for Anthony, who banked in a three to tie the game at 100 with 2.3 left. Anthony finished with 46 points for the Knicks, who were without Amar’e Stoudemire, and Anthony was brilliant all night.
But Utah called a timeout after Anthony leveled the game and calmly came up with the play. A shoutout to Jazz coach Quin Snyder, who came up with a play that had multiple options; and a shoutout to inbound passer Joe Ingles, who calmly went to Burke after not being able to get the ball to Hayward.
It was big, for both teams. Yes, we’re still early in the season, but after losing six straight, the Knicks needed a win, especially at home. And Melo had put them on his back and carried them throughout the game.
The Jazz entered this season in rebuilding mode, and though they’re below .500, they’ve looked promising as they’ve tried to implement Snyder’s pace and space offense. Also, it’s worth noting that this is already Utah’s second appearance on the Horry Scale this season. So not only are they competing, but they’re giving themselves opportunities to win games (and taking advantage of those opportunities).
It was fortuitous that Burke popped the shot directly in front of the Utah bench. Because as soon as the shot went in, he was swarmed by his teammates. The Jazz couldn’t give an all-out celebration because they were on the road, so they didn’t get that awesome crowd reaction like they did at home against Cleveland. Still, the team huddled around Burke and let him have it (including a towel over the head) while Smith looked up in disbelief to check the replay.
Also, we can’t ignore Carmelo’s reaction. After such a big game, all he could do was grimace with the realization that better days are ahead. Hopefully sooner than later.
It was a great play, a great shot, and an important result for a team that needed a win. But being pragmatic, this was a regular season game between two teams under .500. And considering we gave Hayward’s previous Horry Scale entry rated four Horrys, I don’t feel like this one quite matches that one, particularly on the celebration matrix. So I’m giving Trey Burke’s game winner 3 Horrys.
What say you? How many Horrys would you give Trey Burke’s GWBB?