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 SITUATION: The Bulls had not dominated the second half, but they led for most of it until the final minutes. Indiana’s late surge had the Pacers poised to take the win, holding a 106-105 lead with 12.4 seconds left after a Justin Holiday turnover. Many, even most, teams would have been tempted to get a shot up right away, securing an extra chance to tie or take the lead should the first shot miss. DeRozan dismissed that option … and left Indiana zero chance to respond.
DIFFICULTY: Mr. Midrange from 3? Off one foot? For the win?
It’s the kind of attempt Torrey Craig and Indiana surely wanted compared to anything else from DeRozan, a four-time All-Star who feels like a sure thing from anywhere inside the arc. Before Friday’s game-winner, DeRozan was 1-for-20 over his career on 3-pointers in the final minute of one-possession games.
And it’s not like he broke that trend thanks to bad defense. Craig did not allow an easy switch on the initial screen, and stuck with DeRozan as well as could be asked.
CELEBRATION: Neither precedent nor pressure mattered. The face of the Bulls’ dramatic resurgence sank the game-winner and greeted it with two calmly raised arms, soaking in the moment while letting his teammates carry the bulk of raucous pushing, yelling and overall celebrating.
Ending 2021 with a BANG!!! @DeMar_DeRozan | #NBAAllstar pic.twitter.com/O1x04FRVJf
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 1, 2022
From one 3-point line to near the opposite baseline they pushed DeRozan, finally getting him on the ground where they proceeded to punch his chest and loudly affirm his awesomeness. The home Pacers crowd, meanwhile, watched in resignation while hearing more than a smattering of cheers from fans of their visiting division rival.
GRADE: It is hard to draw up another play that symbolizes this is, indeed, a new year for the Chicago Bulls, and on New Year’s Eve no less. The drama of the moment even caught up DeRozan’s star teammate, Zach LaVine, who took to Twitter to dub the shot the “New Year’s Eve Heave.” The shot created tangible ripples in the standings as well, which now see the once moribund Bulls in first place in the Eastern Conference. It wasn’t a playoff game-winner, but it’s about as big as regular-season ones get. Four Horrys.