Horry Scale

Horry Scale: Bam Adebayo topples Nets at the buzzer

Miami's wayward season received a game-winning jolt in front of a fired-up home crowd.

Matthew Petersen

Full Focus: Bam Adebayo's winner vs. Nets

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.

It doesn’t take long for NBA onlookers to turn the page to the next big thing. Miami is the defending Eastern Conference champion, an achievement that already seems distant.

Brooklyn, meanwhile, is the trendy pick of many to succeed the Heat as that conference’s representative to capture the crown. The two teams’ respective records back up the seismic shift out East, where the Nets entered Sunday afternoon just one game back of first-place Philadelphia.

The Heat limped into the nationally televised broadcast with an underwhelming .500 record, lost in a scrum that could see seeds four through nine shift any which way before the season’s end.

With one 13-foot jump shot, Bam Adebayo reminded everyone the NBA road East of Memphis still runs through South Beach.

GAME SITUATION: Neither team led by more than seven in a contest that featured 19 lead changes and 10 ties. Brooklyn appeared ready to seize the game for good after Kyrie Irving’s free throws gave the Nets a 107-101 lead with 3:31 remaining. They never scored again.

Miami’s defense allowed the Heat to tie the game, producing an Irving miss with 24.3 seconds left and a final shot attempt in regulation. Coach Erik Spoelstra opted not to use a timeout, allowing his veteran team to play it out within the flow of the game.

DIFFICULTY: With Jimmy Butler out of commission due to a sprained ankle, Miami gave Adebayo the controls. Unlike more perimeter-oriented players, who often resort to step-back shots over single defenders, Adebayo drove toward a closer comfort zone — the fourth-year big man is shooting a scalding 58.3% on 10-14 footers left of the key this season.

Brooklyn tried countering those odds. Two additional Nets defenders quickly closed in around Adebayo, but neither they nor Jeff Green were tall enough to truly contest Adebayo’s pull-up jumper. It’s a shot that appears easy, but the one-time All-Star is among precious few big men in the league capable of pulling it off.

CELEBRATION: Duncan Robinson wins the Most Enthusiastic Teammate award, half-hugging, half-leaping onto Adebayo from behind. The Miami bench races from the other end to hug and push their hero. But the best part might have been the fans, who have slowly regained a presence after a pandemic-stricken calendar year. That they can witness and react to moments like this again in greater and greater numbers is giving an energy that simply doesn’t exist without them.

GRADE: Miami needed a win in general, but especially after a disheartening defeat to the Timberwolves on Friday. They had lost previous litmus tests to the Suns, Clippers, Jazz, Nets, 76ers, and Nuggets. The shot itself wasn’t the most iconic or difficult, but the significance of the win and a legit home crowd bump it up to 3.5 Horrys.

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