ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A few weeks back, Knicks guard J.R. Smith was caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar, as he distracted a few opponents by untying their shoes. Last night against the Mavs, Smith unveiled a new diversionary tactic versus Vince Carter…
Yep, we’re still pretty pumped over Paul George‘s sick 360-degree windmill jam. We definitely don’t see those kinds of dunks on a regular basis, especially during a game.
But we have seen it before.
For many of the younger NBA fans, Vince Carter didn’t earn one of the best NBA nicknames, “Half-Man, Half-Amazing”, for nothing. (Wonder how that would look on the back of today’s nickname jerseys…) Vinsanity was easily one of the best dunkers of his heyday, if not the very best. (Is 2000 really that long ago? Geez.) And his epic 2000 Slam Dunk Contest performance is every reason you need to believe that kind of declaration.
Let’s just hope that George isn’t too big for this year’s Dunk Contest and can hopefully inspire a high-flyer down the line in the same fashion that Carter probably did for him.
As always, check out the Dunk HQ, your home for the countdown of the best jams of the season! Of course PG is in the mix!
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I can not tell a lie: It has been a season of highs and lows here at Horry Scale Central. We began the season with three Game-Winning Buzzer-Beaters within seven days, a flurry of activity to make even the most jaded NBA watcher’s head twirl. This required me to write three Horry Scale posts in succession, which turned out to be a controversial endeavor. Folks weren’t happy with my rating of the Jeff Green GWBB, which kept me up very late at night, triggering some difficult and genuine soul searching, at least as far as you know. Since then I have perhaps tried to overcorrect with some of my other ratings, a maneuver that has in no small part generated its own share of controversy, and which has caused something of an existential Horry Scale crisis.
But I digress. 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, Today we turn our tired eyes to the lovely Pacific Northwest. Let’s check out last night’s game-winner from Monta Ellis…
Monta Ellis has made tougher shots in his career, probably even in this game. This was basically a catch-and-shoot on a curl coming around a screen, a shot Ellis has taken thousands of times in his life. And Ellis made a clean catch, swung around the screen, and had a wide open look at the basket. And yes, he drained the shot, so kudos to him. To me the most interesting thing on this play was that the Blazers did not switch defenders on the screen. In the NBA, for the most part defenders always switch on picks in the last few seconds of a game, and particularly on an inbounds play. This is not only easy for the players on the floor to remember, in a more general sense it means defenders are always running at the ball when there are only seconds to play. But as Ellis came around the series of screens, Portland’s Wesley Matthews tried to stay with him, with no real help waiting for him. (As my main man Ben Golliver reports on Blazers Edge, Portland had decided before the play to only switch guard-on-guard screens. Dallas’ other guard on the floor was Jose Calderon, who was inbounding the ball, so the Blazers all knew there would effectively be no switching.) By the time Ellis caught the pass, curled around the pick from DaJuan Blair and popped free at the top of the key, Portland’s best defensive option may have been LaMarcus Aldridge, who was flat-footed about six feet away from Ellis. Matthews made a last-second swipe at the ball from behind while trying to recover, but he couldn’t make a difference.
What you don’t see in the clip above is the clutch three-pointer Lillard made to tie the game with 1.9 seconds remaining. That play was set up by a Dallas turnover from, you guessed it, Monta Ellis. So in many ways this GWBB was about redemption for Monta. Still, once Dallas got the ball with the game tied, it seemed like it would probably be Dirk Nowitzki time, right? Even in the video above, as the Mavs line up for the play, you can hear Portland analyst Mike Rice note, “Watch [DaJuan] Blair set a pick for either Vince Carter or Dirk.” So Dallas coach Rick Carlisle using the situation to run a play for Ellis was not only in retrospect a wise choice, it was crafty, as well.
This was big on both sides. The Blazers had been riding a four-game winning streak, and had amassed eight straight wins at home. The crowd in Portland, which is always among the best in sports, was rowdy and sold out, twenty-thousand strong. The Mavs, meanwhile, after an offseason that was quieter than most expected, have been something of a mild surprise this season, bobbing along a couple of games above .500. Any road win in the NBA is a good thing, but a road win over the best team in the Conference is always a great thing.
The Mavs seemed really fired up by Ellis’ shot, surrounding him and grabbing him. Also, I’m pretty sure someone ran off the Dallas bench and hit Ellis with a large cushion at about the 19-second mark of the video. I particularly enjoyed this facet of the celebration: The cushion bash needs to become a regular part of post-shot celebrations.
If nothing else, Mavs owner Mark Cuban was jacked up about it…
I think we can all agree that the degree of difficulty wasn’t through the roof, at least just as a jump shot, in a bubble. But all the other parts of this play — Ellis’ earlier turnover, Lillard’s game-tying three moments earlier, Portland’s home win streak, Dallas’ execution on the final play — give added weight to the play. This is one of those situations where I wish we had half-Horrys to award, because I really feel like this is a 3.5 Horry Play. Should I round up or down? That’s another discussion for another day. In this case, I’m going with four Horrys, because for me the post-shot cushion bash lifts it from three to four…
That’s my take. How many Horry’s would you give the Monta Ellis game-winner?
So far this season, the Mavs have tried to pump up excitement for their team by going to two pop culture wells: doing a tie-in with a current pop song (i.e. the Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis’ “The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)”) and doctoring movie footage (the Hulk gets his Mavs-colored tint on in a scene from “The Avengers”). Not to let too much time pass between viral videos, the Mavs are going to the music well again. This time, they’re offering up a cover of The Beatles’ classic, “All You Need Is Love”, with a version of their own:
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — One of this summer’s most popular viral videos came from the Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis, who released their weird song “The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)” That video has almost 175 million views, so they’re obviously doing something right.
Leave it to the Dallas Mavericks to create a spot-on parody of the song and video. Want to see guys like Dirk Nowitzki and Sam Dalembert in uniforms and partial animal masks, singing non-sensical lyrics? Then do we have a video for you!
I nearly spat out my coffee when Vince Carter made his appearance… -
By Jared Cunningham, Dallas Mavericks January 8, 2013 New Year, New Opportunities
This year has gotten off to a great start! I was playing in the D-League with the Texas Legends for a couple weeks last month, and I found out at 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 31 that the Dallas Mavericks had just recalled me. The Legends GM called me to say it was time to go back to the Mavs, and that I needed to be at the gym for practice that morning. That was a great phone call!
When I got to the gym, a lot of people had smiles on their faces. Dahntay Jones even said, “I missed you, rook!” It was a happy moment. I went with the team that afternoon to play Washington. A few of us went out to dinner for New Year’s Eve, and then we got a great win against the Wizards the next day. For us to get that win, it was a great start for our team’s new year.
Things are great. I came back to the team feeling more comfortable handling the ball and making my teammates better. I think the coaches have seen that in me. Getting recalled right before the first of the month, when the New Year hit, really gave me a fresh start to get focused and ready to play with the Mavs. I’m working on my all-around game, learning every day, developing into a better player and taking advice from our team’s veterans.
Vince Carter talks to me a lot and points out things to help me get better. He’s been in this league a long time, and he tells me to fight through adversity. My assistant coach Darrell Armstrong has helped me out a lot, too. It’s been great having two other rookies, Jae Crowder and Bernard James, as teammates, too. We are all in different situations — some playing, some not — but at the end of the day, we are all working hard together.
I don’t really have a New Year’s resolution, but I told myself that I’d come back to the Mavs with a lot of energy and help my team win. I’m really glad to be back with the team.
I’ll tell you a little bit about my D-League experience, which was really great for me. On Dec. 11, I was ready to leave for a Mavs road trip – bags packed and everything – and when I got to practice, my agent called. He told me I’d be going to the Texas Legends, which is in Frisco, about 30 minutes from Dallas. At first, I was really in disbelief. My agent told me it would be an opportunity for me to get back in shape and play basketball. I knew it would be a new challenge to play with guys I didn’t know in a different environment.
I ended up playing over 30 minutes a game (for seven games), and got to run the point guard position that I should be playing in the future. I had some good teammates looking out for me and trying to help me succeed. It was a lot of pressure, but I had to stay confident and in the right frame of mind. I kept telling myself that I needed to take advantage of the opportunity, go hard and go back to what I know I can do. I talked to my family a lot during that time, and also to my agent. He kept telling me that my time would come and to take advantage of the opportunity to get in shape and get up and down the floor.
During one of the Legends home games, Coach Carlisle came out to Frisco on a Mavs day off to watch me play. That meant a lot to me because I knew they cared about wanting me to grow and develop as a player. Seeing Coach there made me play even harder and focus even more.
The D-League was a good experience for me, but it was definitely different than the NBA. The first couple days I drove about 30 minutes back and forth from Dallas to Frisco. Then I decided to stay in a hotel with some other players from the Legends team so I didn’t have to drive that much. In the NBA, you fly on a charter plane. In the D-League, you fly commercial and take a lot of buses.
It was a very humbling experience and made me realize how fortunate I am to be in the NBA.
It was a great thing when the Legends coach said we had time off for a few days during Christmas. I caught the first plane to home to Oakland to spend Christmas with my family. We opened a couple presents on Christmas Eve; they were very happy to have me there. And it was very beneficial for me to have fun with my family for a couple days.
I hope you are having a great start to the year! Find out how things are going for me on Twitter @J1Flight and on Instagram at J1Flight.
Jared Cunningham, a 6-foot-4 guard from Oregon State, was the 24th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs later traded him to the Dallas Mavericks.
I don’t know who did this, or why, but that’s the beauty of the web. I don’t have to know, all I have to do is sit back and enjoy, and contemplate how awesome/terrifying it is that I can immediately pick out most of the plays being referenced here. By all means help yourself to that thread to peruse the full assortment, but here are a few of my favorites to whet your whistle:
Have we really considered what a post-Kobe Bryant NBA is going to look like? I knew I recognized this play from somewhere, but was having a difficult time nailing down the specific game and opponent. So I did what any good investigative journalist would do, I hit up YouTube. Well guess what, Kobe’s scored on layups like this roughly a billion times. I mean, I know Kobe is an all-timer, but sometimes it takes watching an 11-minute highlight reel of JUST HIS LAYUPS to make you remember how special he truly is. I finally found the play, by the way, it was against the Spurs and it’s at about the 6:45 mark.
Pretty obvious which this is. All I have to say is, whoever created this, you get the shot but not the resulting jump and fist pump?
Well now, that didn’t take long. I was wondering how far into the 2011-12 season we’d get before someone got nice with the game-winner, and Kevin Durant decided five days was long enough. Works for me! Two straight years on the Horry Scale for KD, and I imagine many more to come.
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 Clippers-Nets game), and celebration, and give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys.
Let’s get this show on the road for the year and see how Kevin Durant rates:
For mere mortals, that’s a tough shot. For Durantula, the 30-foot-fading-turnaround is almost a layup at this point. Still, with only 1.4 seconds to release, and three Dallas defenders rushing at him (well, two Dallas defenders — what you watchin’ there Dirk?), that’s a pretty impressive make.
Vince Carter was nearly the hero tonight, as his 3-pointer gave the Mavericks the lead with under two ticks remaining. As soon as his shot went through, I checked to see how much time was left, saw 1.4, and said to myself, oooh, that’s a little too much clock for the Thunder. Not like VC could help it, but just sayin’.
It is early in the season, but I’m going to give this one pretty high marks for import. For starters, the Mavericks are the defending champs, and knocked the Thunder out of the postseason in the Western Conference Finals, so that’s a nice little payback shot for OKC. It’s no ring, but it’s a start. Secondly, in a season with only 66 games, every win counts a little bit more — and every loss you can give a potential playoff rival helps as well. The Thunder nearly gave this game away and allowed the Mavs, who had been blown out two straight games to start the season, to find a little rejuvenation. Instead, KD is a killer, and all you’ll see in the standings tomorrow is a 0 in the loss column for the team from Oklahoma.
The Thunder have terrific fans, so its no surprise to see them going hog wild. But what makes the celebration great to me is Royal Ivey, Durant’s fellow Texas alum (Hook ‘em!), coming in at the end in a suit to serve as hype man for his incredible teammate.
4 Horrys. I’ve already watched this replay about 25 times, and I could watch it 25 more. The ball barely touches the net! Sometimes I give Durant a little grief for settling for long jump shots in these scenarios when he might get something a little easier near the basket, but tonight no such option was available. Didn’t seem to bother him too much, did it? Either way, I’m just glad to have the Horry Scale back.
What do you think?
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Missed the cut: Ed Davis, Raptors; Wayne Ellington, Timberwolves; Brendan Haywood, Mavericks; Antawn Jamison, Cavaliers (injured); Brandan Wright, Nets
Team synopsis: With Jamison hurt, Hansbrough rides his recent hot streak into the starting lineup for the Tar Heels, which is a good thing for UNC because this team lacks an inside presence otherwise. Lawson and Felton take turns at the point in Denver, but share the backcourt here. Vinsanity may not be the force of nature he once was, but North Carolina will still need him to be the go-to scorer on this team.
Nowadays, Chris Webber would never have called his infamous timeout in the NCAA title game because he’d almost certainly have left after his freshman year — as would have Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard. Larry Johnson, Greg Anthony and Stacey Augmon — all of whom were first-round picks in 1991 — returned to UNLV after winning the 1990 national championship. The only guys who have done that recently were Florida’s ’04s of Corey Brewer, Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Taurean Green — and even then, everyone knew they were the exception.
While we’ll never know if Syracuse could have repeated as national champs in 2004 had Carmelo Anthony stayed, or what kind of ridiculous stats Kevin Durant might have put up had he stayed four years at Texas, we do know they became stars in the NBA.
Which leads us to a new series we will be running on All Ball over the course of the next few weeks:
Bragging Rights: The Ultimate Battle for School Pride
The premise is simple:
We want to know which school has the best NBA players. Over the next few weeks, we will pit every school with at least five players currently on active NBA rosters against each other in a hypothetical, March Madness-style, single-elimination bracket.
We’ve seeded the teams (see below), and we’ll roll out a few games each week. You vote for the winners.
We’ll start this afternoon with Stanford vs. LSU.
Why spend your time wondering how good your favorite college team could have been when your favorite players are still in action today? Once a Dukie, always a Dukie, right?