Horry Scale

Horry Scale: Andrew Wiggins answers call at buzzer to lift Wolves

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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Game-winning shots are made more amazing based on the setting. In this case, the setting didn’t make for a special moment. This was a late January game between the Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves, the worst and fourth-worst teams in the Western Conference, and the crowd was thin as could be expected. Suffice to say it won’t become legendary.

But the Horry Scale is all about rewarding winning shots, and so this one qualifies. Trailing by a point, Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau called Andrew Wiggins’ number for the big shot. He made the most of it, giving the Wolves the win on an 18-footer just when it appeared as though he’d lose it all after losing his grip on the floor and the ball.

The Wolves haven’t had much to celebrate this season, but this was one such occasion, thanks to some quick-thinking and reacting by Wiggins.

DIFFICULTY: Amazingly, the Suns’ defense on this play was rather soft, for the most part. If anything, Wiggins made the shot difficult for himself but stumbling over his feet, then uprighting himself in time to re-focus on the rim. This allowed PJ Tucker, maybe the Suns’ best on-ball defender and who put the Suns ahead with two free throws before the final play, to confront him. But Wiggins elevated over Tucker for the swish.

GAME SITUATION: Minnesota trailed by one with 6.3 seconds left, and anyone who has watched the Wolves knows how this team has failed to pull out close games this season. That’s one reason why they’re just a few games from the bottom of the West. Zach LaVine inbounded the ball to Ricky Rubio, who took a few dribbles and found Wiggins. Interestingly, the Wolves didn’t go to Karl-Anthony Towns, but Wiggins had 29 points at that point and was Minnesota’s most efficient player on the floor.

CELEBRATION: After beating his chest — and why not? — Wiggins was greeted first by LaVine and then a mini-Minnesota mob at midcourt. These are the kind of finishes the Wolves could get used to.

GRADE: Let’s take into account that this was against the Suns, and accomplished on a rather ho-hum designed play, and that Wiggins didn’t make the shot while falling out of bounds or anything dramatic like that. Still, the shot was rather tough, especially after stumbling. Good win for the Wolves. GRADE: FOUR HORRYS

Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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