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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Per Basketball Reference, the Pelicans won Wednesday’s contest against the Thunder with the 793rd buzzer-beater in NBA history. Of those 793 winners, none covered more distance than Devonte’ Graham’s 61-foot heave at Chesapeake Energy Arena, surpassing the unofficial mark of 55 feet by Denver’s Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in 1992.
Making Graham’s historic shot even more remarkable, it was preceded by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s 30-foot fling to tie the game at 110 just 1.4 seconds prior, forcing the Pelicans to go full court with no timeouts to win it. Graham said the Pelicans have an actual play call for such situations.
Fittingly, the play is named “Vegas”.
“I almost took the ball out, but I was like nah, I’ma try to get one up,” said Graham, whose pregame routine includes a half-court shot as the warmup clock winds down. “So I told Josh (Hart) to take it out, and I just let it fly. I saw it going, and I’m like, ‘Oh man, it’s got a chance.’ When it went in, I just ran around like a crazy person.”
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) December 16, 2021
DIFFICULTY: The highest. It goes without saying that the further away you get from the bucket, the harder it is to make shots. But that’s why players fling up shots at the end of quarters/halves/games: You just never know when you’re going to luck out and beat the odds.
“There’s a chance that’s going to go in,” Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas said, “and that happened today.”
GAME SITUATION: The Pelicans could at least bank the safety of overtime had Graham’s heave misfired. Indeed, they were lucky to have escaped a whistle on Gilgeous-Alexander’s shot, when Garrett Temple came dangerously close to a shooting foul while trying to put the Thunder guard on the line before he could hoist it up. But Graham kept his cool and was rewarded when his long shot banked in off glass. And no, he didn’t call it.
CELEBRATION: A heady mix of shock and elation. Said Graham after the game, “I’ve watched it four times, and it’s gonna be another 400 tonight.”