Hassan Whiteside's tip-in beats buzzer, lifts Miami Heat over Detroit Pistons
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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The Pistons had more trouble closing out a game Tuesday night. This Tuesday night, that is, because that’s how much of a problem it has become. A Tuesday routine.
Exactly one week after losing at the buzzer in Brooklyn when Brook Lopez hit a baseline jumper, Detroit’s playoff hopes were dealt another blow when Hassan Whiteside tipped in a miss by teammate Goran Dragic as the clock turned zeroes to give the Heat a 97-96 victory in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Unlike when the Nets were the opponent, though, this could have double the postseason implications. Whiteside at once assured his team, the Heat, of maintaining the grip on eighth place in the Eastern Conference while also dealing a setback to the Detroit bid of moving up from 10th. A March game that could end up having April implications.
On a third-chance basket at that. Another highlight moment for Whiteside in his 2016-17 reel. And another draining night for the Pistons.
DIFFICULTY: A tip-in is the easy play, except that anything that includes going over Andre Drummond instantly increases the degree of difficulty. Anything that includes going over Andre Drummond is difficult.
GAME SITUATION: The Heat trailed 95-96 when they took a 20-second timeout with 11.3 seconds remaining. James Johnson got the pass at the free-throw line at the other end, dribbled past half court, started to penetrate and pulled up for a 12-footer from the right side. When that missed, Whiteside helped keep the play alive by tipping the offensive rebound before it was controlled in the lane by Goran Dragic. Dragic struggled in traffic but got a shot off with a little more than a second left.
When that missed and Drummond miss-timed his jump, with perfect position for the defensive board that would have meant a Detroit win, Drummond tipped it in from about a foot away. That did mean a Miami win.
CELEBRATION: James Johnson lifted the 7-foot, 265-pound Whiteside over his left shoulder, which may have been the new accomplishment. Dragic came from the other side and hugged Whiteside as Whiteside dangled over Johnson’s back. The Heat bench emptied on the court to sprint toward Whiteside near the other end to join the party. It was a good way to finish what could become a big night.
GRADE: Just like a week earlier, it should be an Incomplete, pending the end of the regular season, a look at the final standings and the true judgment on the value of Whiteside’s basket. That it could be critical for both teams is important enough for now, though. A buzzer-beater in that kind of setting is unusual, a rarity that brings unique meaning to what otherwise was a pretty basic tip, so Three Horrys.
Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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