Horry Scale

Horry Scale: Devin Booker wins it for Phoenix Suns off glass

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.


Well, it hasn’t been the turnaround season the Suns were hoping for; they find themselves skimming the bottom of the West and somewhat desperately searching for ways to inspire hope for the present and future.

But giving the ball to Devin Booker with the game on the line is good for starters.

Such was the case Friday against the Sacramento Kings, with the score tied at 103-all and Phoenix looking for a savior. Booker was an obvious choice; the 20-year-old guard, in short time, had established himself as a dangerous scorer both from deep and off the dribble. His game is maturing quickly, making him a sure bet to be an All-Star in the near future and perhaps for years to come.

And so the Suns took a step in the right direction, against a Kings team that shares the same misery, by tapping into the emerging talent of Booker and getting out of the way.

DIFFICULTY: This was clearly a strategy that was all-in for Booker, who isolated on Matt Barnes and was the Suns’ only option on the play. Booker didn’t ask for, nor receive, a screen after taking the inbounds pass from P.J. Tucker. A total clear-out, and while Barnes was a terrific on-ball defender in his heyday, this one-on-one matchup was a mismatch. All that said, Booker’s 18-footer banked off the glass, and a good guess is that wasn’t by design.

GAME SITUATION: Darren Collison had given the Kings the lead with nine seconds left on a jumper, capping a solid game (19 points). But Booker was on a better roll and would finish with 33. The Kings badly needed to establish some level of home-court advantage in their shiny new building; the loss to the Suns now means only Brooklyn has fewer home wins than the Kings (eight). It was also their third straight defeat.

CELEBRATION: This one was rather muted. Booker took a rather casual stroll toward the locker room after hitting the shot, but of course he didn’t get far before he was covered in his teammates’ fingerprints.

GRADE: An early February game pairing two losing teams doesn’t exactly get the imagination stirring. And Booker did need the courtesy of the backboard to make the shot. It was a welcome win for the Suns and Booker is an up-and-coming star, so let’s give it three Horrys out of five.

Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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