Horry Scale

Horry Scale: Curry caps Warriors comeback with step-back jumper

Stephen Curry got the exact shot he wanted to help save the Warriors against Houston.

Stephen Curry hits the step-back jumper to lift the Warriors at the buzzer.

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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Golden State appeared in very real danger of falling further into its midseason slump on Friday night. The Warriors trailed Houston, the worst team in the Western Conference, by as many 15 points just 24 hours after losing to an injury-decimated and nearly lottery-bound Pacers team in overtime. They had dropped six of their last nine games, slipping closer to the third-place scrum between Memphis and Utah.

Until Stephen Curry donned the cape when they needed it most.

GAME SITUATION: The Warriors trailed by seven with just four minutes remaining before their defense produced several stops that allowed them to pull even. Otto Porter Jr.’s free throws tied the game, and the teams traded empty possessions until Golden State had the ball with 5.1 seconds left. The Bay Area crowd stood, poised to witness its hero produce yet another moment they could share with their descendents years from now.

DIFFICULTY: The generous amount of time remaining allowed Curry the cushion he needed to receive the ball, fake, take three dribbles left and toward the basket before stepping back to create an ocean of space for the shot. The open 19-footer rippled nothing but net. The shot itself was relatively easy, but the move to set it up was deceptively simple. Practice creating space with only your off-hand dribble against someone trying desperately to stop you and see you how well you do.

CELEBRATION: The home crowd erupted in admirable fashion as Curry jogged to the opposite corner of the court, where he was quickly surrounded by his teammates. A celebratory mosh pit ensued, with none jumping higher than the inactive Klay Thompson (rest). Curry eventually separated for his own giddy dance routine and a triumphant yell, clearly never too cool to let the joy of the moment wash over him.

GRADE: Even without Thompson and Draymond Green (injured), it was surprising to see the Warriors nearly stunned by Houston less than a day after learning a hard lesson from the Pacers. Curry’s saving shot was far from his most difficult, though it was his first to come at the horn in his entire career. A win over an inferior team in January may dock a bit from this one, but it will count just the same in the wins column for Golden State. Two and a half Horrys.