Horry Scale: Blake Griffin's 3-pointer buries Blazers
Matt Petersen, 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 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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There are two undefeated teams remaining 10 days into the regular season. One is the Kawhi Leonard-less San Antonio Spurs. The other is the remodeled LA Clippers, thanks to Blake Griffin’s buzzer-beating heroics on Thursday night. The eighth-year forward sank a 3-pointer from the left side as time expired to bump the Clippers to 4-0 to start 2017-18.
The dramatic victory came at the expense of the Portland Trail Blazers, who were 3-1 entering last night’s game. C.J. McCollum appeared to have given his team the final edge with a go-ahead jumper and a free throw in the final minute, but Griffin trumped that with the 3-pointer that proved to be the difference.
DIFFICULTY: Griffin said the final play was designed for him to attack the basket, but that Portland’s defense negated that option. Instead, he was forced to navigate all the way around teammate Patrick Beverley, using him as a casual screen to create space for the sliver of time he needed. Even then, Griffin felt compelled to give a pump fake, but Al-Farouq Aminu still contested the shot well from Griffin’s right side. Shooting from distance after a momentum-killing pump fake is not easy, but Griffin’s shot was pure proof of how much work the former Slam Dunk Contest champion has put into his outside shot.
GAME SITUATION: The Clippers faced quite the letdown after leading by as many as 10 points in the second half. Griffin was the reason Los Angeles survived Portland’s comeback attempt, as he scored 16 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter. Still, McCollum’s final three points had the Blazers poised for a two-point victory, which would have been especially frustrating after how hotly contested the final few possessions were. Clippers guard Austin Rivers dislocated his finger on the previous possession and earned an offensive foul in the process, forcing Los Angeles to foul McCollum. Luckily for the Clippers, the 92-percent free throw shooter missed one of his two free throws, leaving Griffin the chance to put the game away in regulation.
CELEBRATION: Griffin defiantly ran the opposite direction and into his jubilant teammates, who mock-restrained him as he marched about in the now-silenced Moda Center. If there was ever a scene that depicted Griffin’s place as the undisputed star of the LA Clippers, this was it.
GRADE: Every win is big in the Western Conference, where good teams run the risk of not being good enough. Thanks to Griffin, the Clippers have an early lead in that race. Many wondered how Los Angeles would perform after trading Chris Paul to Houston. Griffin’s emphatic answer on Thursday night: pretty darn good. Three-and-a-half Horrys.