Horry Scale: Gary Harris rescues Denver Nuggets with clutch 3
Khari Arnold, NBA.com
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 February?) 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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Two teams currently in the Western Conference’s playoff field provided one of the best finishes of the season on Thursday night. Coming off two heartbreaking losses that went down to the wire this week, the Denver Nuggets cruised for majority of the contest and even boasted a 20-point lead in the first half. That was before the Oklahoma City Thunder climbed back in the fourth quarter, led by Paul George and Russell Westbrook. In the end, however, the final hero would be Gary Harris, who delivered the clutch jumper at the buzzer to rescue Denver from another tough loss.
DIFFICULTY: While 1.4 seconds seems like a short window to execute a play, in reality, that’s an eternity. The Nuggets had plenty of time to get a shot off coming out of a timeout — the problem would be how clean of a look they would get. Without much difficulty, that problem was solved when Westbrook, who, as Nikola Jokic put it after the game, “fell asleep” on the final possession that left Harris with a wide-open look.
GAME SITUATION: The Nuggets led 104-89 at the start of the fourth quarter. The lead began to dwindle as the frame went on and it was completely squandered when George pulled up for a huge step-back 3 that gave the All-Star 43 points and knotted things up for the first time since tipoff. Jokic, the team’s best passer, was left to inbound the ball with 1.4 left and delivered a strike to the opposite wing. Harris came through with the cold-blooded trey.
CELEBRATION: After seeing Westbrook and OKC display a classic celebration on the exact same court last season, it was exhilarating to see Harris and his teammates on the victorious side of a classic Northwest Division finish.
GRADE: Three Horrys.