Horry Scale: Al Horford caps Boston Celtics' rally with game-winner
David Lundy, NBA.com
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 February?) 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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All-Star forward Al Horford has done it all this season for the surging Celtics, who many thought would struggle after newly acquired Gordon Hayward went down with a season-ending injury in the first game. Sunday’s performance against the Trail Blazers is a microcosm of Horford’s versatility: He led the team in points (22), rebounds (10) and assists (five), and was a leader on defense as the Celtics rallied from a 16-point halftime deficit. “Mr. Do Everything” capped his performance with the game-winning dagger, and the Celtics were victorious 97-96.
DIFFICULTY: Horford’s 2-pointer wasn’t a long one (15 feet), but there was nothing easy about it. With four seconds left, Jaylen Brown gets the inbound pass on the right wing to Horford, who had sprinted across the lane to accept it. Draped by a tough defender, the Blazers’ Al Farouq Aminu, Horford dribbles twice, leans his back into Aminu slightly, then steps away from the direction of the basket and elevates for the fadeaway. The turnaround shot bangs the lower back of the rim and flushes for the game-winner.
GAME SITUATION: Sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings, the Celtics had battled back from a slow start against the Trial Blazers, a Western Conference team likely headed for the playoffs. But trailing by one point and with the possession, it was do-or-die for the Celtics. Boston’s confidence in calling Horford’s number — and the confidence he had shown in leading his team this day — was rewarded. Failure to finish after the comeback would have been deflating, even if this wasn’t a conference matchup.
CELEBRATION: It wasn’t the seventh game of a playoff series and not much was at stake in this game, other than momentum. But Horford’s fist pump and mobbing by his teammates as the crowd at TD Garden roared was testimony to Horford’s standing with his teammates and fans.
GRADE: Three Horrys