Horry Scale

Horry Scale: Gary Trent Jr. keeps Raptors clinging to Play-In picture

Toronto's trade deadline addition caps a furious fourth-quarter rally past Washington with the buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

Ben Couch, NBA.com

Gary Trent Jr. brings the ball up, frees the space and nails the game-winning 3-pointer.

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.

Even as a miserable, COVID-19 displaced campaign unfolds for the Toronto Raptors in Tampa, they just … keep … hanging … on. Having traded scoring swingman Norman Powell to Portland on March 25 for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood, the Raptors lost four of five and seemed set to fall fully out of the playoff picture.

And then, Trent capped a fourth-quarter rally with a game-winning buzzer-beater on Monday, and Toronto finds itself just a game out of 10th place — last to qualify for the Play-In Tournament and a chance to make some postseason noise. Don’t forget most of this group still has championship experience. That counts for something. Exactly what, we’ll find out by season’s end.

GAME SITUATION: The Wizards won each of the first three quarters, entering the fourth with an 11-point margin and Russell Westbrook well on his way to yet another triple-double (final line: 23 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists). With the Wizards going cold from range — missing 13 straight 3-pointers at one point — the Raptors raced out at the beginning of the quarter, eventually snatching a 91-90 lead and creating a battle the rest of the way.

Westbrook tied things at 98 with two minutes remaining, and then put the Wizards up one with a 3-pointer that left 41.1 seconds on the clock. Toronto turned it over on a Pascal Siakam charging call, the Wizards’ Raul Neto missed a layup and Trent grabbed the rebound with 4.4 seconds on the clock and room to run. Initiate final sequence.

DIFFICULTY: With a live rebound and no timeouts, Trent needed to cover ground to give Toronto a chance. One quick left-to-right crossover opened a lane to the top of the opposite end of the logo, and a hard right-to-left behind-the-back dribble (perhaps aided by a little nudge) cleared the room for a pullup 3-pointer as time expired. It swished clean.

CELEBRATION: The ball dropped through the net into De’Andre Bembry’s hand, he immediately slammed the ball into the hardwood, sending it skyrocketing as the team rushed to embrace Trent near midcourt, where he was shouting into the stands. Chest bumps and pounds all around from there. Amped.

GRADE: The race upcourt against the clock is never easy, and Trent didn’t get — or need — any help to free space for the 3-pointer. If Toronto somehow salvages a postseason run, this single shot might loom large. 3.5 Horrys