Horry Scale

Horry Scale: Rudy Gobert's tip-in gives Utah Jazz overtime win against Sacramento Kings

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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Never mind all of those other cute nicknames that he’s picked up in his four-year NBA career: The Stifle Tower, The French Rejection, The Gobert Report.

After Sunday night, Rudy Gobert should be known as Embrayage Capitaine. That’s Captain Clutch for those of you who haven’t kept up with your French lessons.

First, he made a driving layup off a feed from Gordon Hayward with 3.6 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Then he was Rudy-on-the-Spot to tip in George Hill’s errant jumper at the horn to give the Jazz a 110-109 win over the Kings at Golden One Center.

Remember this: The Horry Scale does not measure only a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a Game-Winning Buzzer-Beater. So we’re talking about not only the shot, but also the play that creates the shot, the situation and the drama, the celebrations … basically, everything surrounding and including the shot. In short, it’s about the total package.

DIFFICULTY: Well, how difficult can a shot be when it was virtually sitting on the front edge of the rim? How hard can it be for a 7-1 center whose arms reach from here to the Champs Elysees to reach up with his left hand and tap in a missed shot over a pair of much smaller players?

GAME SITUATION: When Willie Cauley-Stein made a pair of free throws with eight seconds left in OT, the Kings had a 109-108 lead. Hill came down the court and let fly with a jumper from the left wing that missed everything. But the key was that Sacramento big man Cauley-Stein came out to contest the shot and left the middle wide open. There was Gobert planted right in front of the basket and smaller defenders Arron Afflalo and Garrett Temple were helpless. Gobert reached and tipped it in. The bucket was first waved off by the referees, who ruled that he touched the ball in the cylinder. But after a video review in the Secaucus, N.J. headquarters, the call was reversed and the bucket counted.

CELEBRATION: The only real celebration belonged to the Kings, who initially saw the referees disallow Gobert’s tip-in and figured they’d won the game. Sacramento coach Dave Joerger grinned and raised his hand for high-fives as as raced on the court. A hopeful Cauley-Stein tried to dance away with the win as confetti prematurely fell from the rafters of the Golden One Center. Meanwhile at the other end of the court, Utah coach Quin Snyder was jumping up and down and demanding a look at a replay. When the call was reversed, the Jazz triumphantly stalked off through the remnants of the confetti.

GRADE: Considering they’re in a dogfight with the Clippers for the No. 4 spot in the West and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs and had inexplicably been blown out in Salt Lake City by 27 points earlier in the week, the Jazz could hardly afford another loss to a bottom-feeder. Toss in the fact that the Jazz were down by a point and Hill’s fadeaway never had a chance of going in and the shot by Embrayage Capitaine Gobert was a lifesaver. It might have been short, but it was sweet and timely and oh-so-needed. GRADE: Four Horrys.

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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