Is it OK to say this was the sweetest moment for Derrick Rose since 2011? Yes, it appears so, because what could be more uplifting to a player who’s been to injury hell and back (three times) than sending a sucker punch to LeBron James and the Cavs here in what could be a tightly-contest second-round playoff series?
Over the last few years it has become customary, even tired, to proclaim “He’s Back!” whenever Rose did anything that remotely resembled his MVP season. To be honest, Rose will never be “back” until he displays the consistency of that season, but let’s put that aside for a moment. On this very play, with this very shot, he was “back” for a fleeting microsecond, even if the three-point buzzer beater than put the Bulls up 2-1 in the series required a kiss from the basketball Gods to bank off the glass.
As it is, Rose is being celebrated today in the same city that heckled him during his clumsy comeback from knee surgery a few years ago. Good for him, because if anyone needed a lift from a crazed crowd and a game-winning shot, it’s Rose.
Well, when you’re running to your right and need to shoot over a defender who has the wingspan of a prehistoric bird, then yeah, this shot was a bit tricky to pull off.
Rose took an in-bounds pass with three seconds left and after shaking free of ImanShumpert, found Tristan Thompson flying in his grill. Of course, with time of the essence, there really wasn’t any time to think. And maybe that was a good thing. Three times on the Bulls’ previous four possessions, Rose missed one of two free throws and went 0-for-2 on isolation plays. This time, Rose simply launched it and didn’t call bank.
Before Rose’s game winner, the Bulls were stunned by a desperate three-pointer by J.R. Smith just seconds earlier. In a bit of bad decision-making by the Bulls and coach Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls refused to foul Smith while leading by three. In that situation, it’s better to send a player to the free throw line than risk having him tie the game, and the Bulls lost that gamble.
With Pau Gasol on the bench dealing with an injured hamstring, the Bulls couldn’t afford to play into overtime, not against LeBron. Speaking of whom, he poked the ball away from Rose on the very next play. Lucky for LeBron, he wasn’t called for a foul. And lucky for Rose, the ball went out of bounds, giving the Bulls another shot with three seconds left.
Bulls are up 2-1 in the best of seven. And the next game’s at the United Center on Sunday. C’mon.
Rose was rather subdued, as though he knew a 30-foot bank shot was going in all the way. Anyway, he was immediately lifted into the air by Joakim Noah, who sprinted off the bench, and soon mobbed by teammates. Of course, the UC went nuts, as it should, given that all of Chicago has been waiting to see something like this from Rose for nearly four years. Wish granted. If the Bulls win this series, don’t you think this shot will be raised as one of the reasons why?
Five Horrys, because of the circumstances: Rose’s continued comeback from injuries, it was a playoff game, LeBron was on the floor, and the ball was banked in. Yes, this is the max number of Horrys, but just the same, this isn’t some game in February. Please, after all he’s been through, don’t you think Rose should get lots of Horry love?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Did you wear green yesterday? It was St. Patrick’s Day yesterday, which in the U.S., at least, means we celebrate Irish culture and heritage. A simple way to do that is by wearing green, and we saw that throughout the NBA last night, from players to fans.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A key component of being funny on social media is having a strong hashtag game. A hashtag, of course, is a word or phrase that starts with a # symbol, and while it serves a purpose as a way to allow people to click and follow posts that also use the same hashtag, more often it’s a way to add a joke to whatever you wrote previously. In this video the Cleveland Cavaliers have some fun with hashtags and come up with a few to add to photos of Tristan Thompson. I think the big takeaway here may be that James Jones would be great on Twitter…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I grew up in Atlanta during the ’90s, a time that coincided with the run of Dikembe Mutombo as an Atlanta Hawk. Mutombo never really developed a dominant offensive post game, he was terrific on defense. He got dunked on from time to time, yes, but that was because he tried to block any shot that came near the rim. And when he did get his hands on a shot attempt, Mutombo generally turned that shot around pretty quickly. And then came the crowning glory: The Finger Wag.
It was such a prevalent maneuver that my friends and I started using it in traffic to express our displeasure with other drivers. It was cheeky, but ultimately non-threatening. Also, it was awesome.
Even though Mutombo retired a few seasons ago, the finger wag remains relevant. Just yesterday, for instance we got two displays of the Mutombo finger wag. First Amar’e Stoudemiredelivered one after blocking Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson…
And then we saw one from the stands, as Joakim Noah‘s dad, Yannick, dropped one following a block from Joakim that caused a Miami 24-second violation…
Mutombo may be gone. The finger wag will never die.
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 — Perhaps you thought you were done unwrapping presents, but tonight in Cleveland, the Hawks and Cavs had one last gift for you. It was one of the most entertaining games of the season, so of course it had to end (not in regulation, not in overtime, but in double overtime) with a game-winning buzzer-beater from Hawks guard Jeff Teague.
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, tonight we look to the shores of Lake Erie, to Cleveland, where Jeff Teague could not be stopped…not even by Uncle Drew.
To be fair, it wasn’t the toughest shot in the world — Teague drove left and pulled up for the right-handed jumper, kind of like Hawks guard Mike Bibby used to do. The simple genius in this play was the Hawks running Paul Millsap at Teague with about 6 seconds left to ostensibly set a screen. Millsap got to Teague and set what was basically a token screen, and the Cavs switched the pick. Now, we’ve talked about switching picks here previously — pretty much every NBA team switches picks in the final seconds because the last thing you want is someone who is totally unguarded. You might end up with a mismatch, but at least you’ve got someone defending everyone. On this play, that meant the Cavs went from having Kyrie Irving on Teague to having the 6-foot-9 Tristan Thompson guarding Teague. (Kyrie, by the way, was equally huge tonight, finishing with 40 points and 9 assists). This is what is known as a mismatch, and it only took Teague a few dribbles to shake Thompson and clear room for the last-second shot.
It is in this category that this shot really soars. To begin with, Teague missed a floater with seconds left in regulation that would have broken the tie at 95. Not long into the first overtime, Hawks All-Star center Al Horford had an injury to what appeared to be his right shoulder/chest that took him out of the game, and forced the Hawks to use a variety of makeshift lineups down the stretch. With about 7 seconds left in OT and the Hawks down three, Teague drained a long three-pointer to tie the game at 108. Then with 2.4 seconds left in overtime, the Hawks had a shot at a GWBB from the baseline that Teague couldn’t connect on, sending the game into double OT. In the second OT, Teague had a huge drive-and-one to give the Hawks a 125-123 lead, and then with the game level at 125, Teague ended it. Basically, the situation couldn’t have been much more dramatic. And Teague put the bow on top.
I’m going to lump the ball going through the rim as part of the celebration, because it doesn’t really fit anywhere else (it’s not “difficulty,” it’s just lucky) and that was a huge part of what made this such a great shot. The ball hit the rim five times, I believe, and it may have even kissed the glass somwhere in there, all while the buzzer was sounding in the background and you wondered, “It’s not going to…no way…that can’t…ohmygoshhemadeit!” And then after the ball drops, you see Teague laying flat on the ground celebrating — not only the GWBB but also a career-high 34 points — with Kyle Korver pounding on his chest. This was the first prone Horry Scale celebration of the season, I believe.
For reasons that will become evident in the next week or so, I watched this game intently from the Turner Studios in Atlanta, and the deeper the game went, the more sure I was that we’d have a GWBB. It was an exciting, close game, and it had an equally exciting finish. So for all the reasons detailed above, I’m giving this Four Horrys. I thought seriously about giving this a Five just because it was such a great game, but I felt the actual shot could have had a bit of a higher degree of difficulty.
What say you? How many Horrys would you give Jeff Teague’s GWBB?
Remember a few years back when a big ruckus was created because Kevin Durant couldn’t bench press 185 pounds? So this is sort of the opposite of that — its video of 2011 Draft prospect Tristan Thompson dunking the ball 100 straight times in one sitting in a workout for the Charlotte Bobcats:
I don’t know how helpful a skill this is for Thompson (also a University of Texas product — Hook ’em!), as it’s rare you get the opportunity in a game to dunk more than, you know, once in a row, let alone 100. Still pretty cool though.
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