A reminder on The Horry Scale: It breaks down 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 night in November?) and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, named for the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.
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It would have been an emotional Sunday night for D’Angelo Russell no matter what. His grandmother had died and he told the Lakers he wanted to play anyway.
Then came the game against the Timberwolves and the joy of hitting a three-pointer as time expired to give Los Angeles a 110-109 victory at home and a four-game winning streak, the longest of the season for the Lakers.
In what undoubtedly will be a game he never forgets, Russell made just six of 19 field goals, including two of eight behind the arc, but he left a hero and maybe even a special sense of accomplishment for pushing through the grief to deliver in the clutch. It was Lakers-Timberwolves, lottery team-lottery team, but the real-life implications could not be overlooked.
DIFFICULTY: It was Russell against the clock. Russell was open along the left sideline, in front of the Minnesota bench, when he got took the pass from Julius Randle, feet set and no defender close enough to be factor. The Timberwolves tried to run at Russell, but it was too late.
GAME SITUATION: Russell had to overcome the emotions of the night and the Lakers had to overcome Karl-Anthony Towns (40 points on 17-of-22 shooting, 21 rebounds) and Andrew Wiggins (41 points). Only four other Timberwolves scored, and two of those, Ricky Rubio and Omri Casspi, had all of two points. That set the stage for Russell.
CELEBRATION: Not merely the highlight of the night for the Lakers, it will probably go down as one of their best moments of the season: Russell was hugged by several teammates at the scorer’s table after the shot got a high bounce off the rim and dropped through, then broke free, ran down the sideline and into the stands. He embraced two people there, family members or close friends, on the difficult day as fans cheered around them.
GRADE: On many any other day, or any other player at Staples Center, it’s one Horry at best as the Lakers and Timberwolves play out the schedule. The emotions of Sunday for Russell, though. Going into the stands in what may have been a celebration and family consoling in one. That was special. Two Horrys.