Horry Scale

Horry Scale: Eric Bledsoe's three gives Phoenix Suns win in OT thriller

Scott Howard-Cooper

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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Phoenix needed that. The player, one of their dependable players when few fit the description. The basket. The win.

Especially the win. The Suns were 0-4 and staring at the possibility of another hit when guard Eric Bledsoe, one of the veterans being counted on to help the young roster find its way, hit a high-arcing three-pointer as time expired to beat the Trail Blazers 118-115 in overtime Wednesday in Phoenix.

On a night when the Suns controlled the inside, outscoring the Blazers 62-38 in the paint, they won it from the outside. Bledsoe scored 20 points, none bigger, of course, than the final three.

It could even be the start of a win streak, with Phoenix next playing at New Orleans (0-5) on Thursday.

DIFFICULTY – It was challenging in every way. First, Bledsoe was stepping back and sliding to his right to create space on the defender, Damian Lillard. If Bledsoe got his feet set, it wasn’t by much, letting the ball fly while appearing off-balance. And Lillard was coming at Bledsoe and got a hand in Bledsoe’s face just as the shot was being released. Hardly the ideal position. That Bledsoe was able to convert anyway, with that degree of difficulty, made the moment that much more special.

GAME SITUATION – Bledsoe originally played the hero late in regulation, when his layup with 1.1 seconds remaining gave Phoenix a 103-101 lead. But the Trail Blazers erased that deficit on a Meyers Leonard layup at the buzzer to force overtime. Then the Suns went up by six in the extra period, raising hopes for the first win of the season. Portland erased that too when Lillard made it 115-115 with 6.4 seconds remaining. That set the stage for Bledsoe, once and for all.

CELEBRATION – The Suns, at first seeming subdued, might have had to remind themselves what a win felt like, and Bledsoe made it tougher on them by drifting back to near halfcourt by the time teammates caught him. But once they did, the Suns playfully jostled Bledsoe. The party needed some work.

GRADE – Not to overstate the value of a victory in the opening days of November, but this was more than a victory the opening days of November. The Suns were winless, facing a quality opponent, surrendering late leads, and ultimately needing to rely on a tough look for the save. To win under those circumstances was not only dramatic, it was unusually big for the time of year. TWO HORRYS.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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