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? — along with 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.
In a matchup of two teams jockeying for position in the middle of the Western Conference, the Jazz and Rockets traded punches down the stretch in Houston, but it was Bojan Bogdanovic who delivered the wild knockout blow.
After P.J. Tucker hit a corner 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left, it appeared the Rockets had salvaged the win after fighting back down the stretch. But Jazz coach Quin Snyder drew up a perfect out-of-bounds play, and Bogdanovic came off the curl to hit a miraculous 29-footer at the buzzer to give Utah the 114-113 win at the Toyota Center.
Through three quarters, though, Bogdanovic would have seemed like an unlikely hero. Bogdanovic, who averages 21.2 points, was struggling through one of the worst scoring games of the season, scoring two points through the first three quarters. Bogdanovic saved his best for last, though, and finished with eight, none bigger than the 3 that earned him his entry on the Horry Scale.
“Bogie has been big for us all year,” Mike Conley told NBA TV afterward. “Everyone had the confidence in him to get the ball to him. He’s a big-time player and that’s just a fun win to be a part of.”
DIFFICULTY: The game-winner couldn’t have been more difficult. Not only did he have two defenders draped all over him, but Bogdanovic may have even been fouled on the play. After setting a pindown screen for Donovan Mitchell (whom the Rockets defended well), Bogdanovic raced to the top of the 3-point circle, caught the inbound pass from Joe Ingles and barely had time to set his feet before launching an off-balanced shot over the outstretched arm of James Harden. The shot was dead on, and didn’t touch rim as it silenced the crowd in Houston. ”The play was designed for me to shoot a 3,” Bogdanovic said. ”It’s big-time from their part to have that trust and confidence in me to make that shot after the game that I had.”
GAME SITUATION: The Rockets and Jazz had exchanged punches down the stretch of a back-and-forth thriller. Robert Covington had given Houston the lead with 28 seconds left, but moments later Donovan Mitchell hit a pair of free throws to give Utah a 111-110 lead. The Rockets seemed set to end a two-game losing streak when P.J. Tucker hit a clutch 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left. But the Rockets left too much time on the clock, and Utah’s coaching staff believed in Bogdanovic, despite his struggles. “I wasn’t supposed to be on the court, the way I played all game,” Bogdanovic said in his on-court interview. “But the coaching staff believed in me. I stayed confident. I know I’m able to hit those shots.”
CELEBRATION: This isn’t Bogdanovic’s first buzzer-beater this season, but the celebration still seemed appropriate and spontaneous. After the bucket dropped, Bogdanovic turned and stared toward the other end of the floor as his Jazz teammates raced toward him. Bogdanovic was able to avoid their initial onrush, untucked his jersey and jumped up and down before being mobbed near the scorer’s table. The best part of the celebration, though, may have been the reaction from the other team, as P.J. Tucker slumped to the ground, appearing to cover his mouth in awe as if to chuckle in amazement at the dagger. ”I knew it was good as soon as he caught it,” Tucker said. ”He got a good lift on it. I could tell as soon as he shot it.”
GRADE: This Horry Scale entry had it all: Two Western Conference teams trying to figure things out, fighting for playoff positioning. A beautifully drawn up play, designed for a player who struggled the entire game. Near-perfect defense with two players guarding the shooter as tightly as possible. A perfect splash, followed by an emotional celebration by the road team. When asked after the game how Bogdanovic would rate his game-winner, the sixth-year forward said, “Better than the Milwaukee one.” Well, who are we to argue with Bogie? We graded that night’s corner 3-pointer with “4 Horrys” … so this one gets a bump. 4.5 Horrys.