Horry Scale

Horry Scale: T.J. McConnell's jumper lifts Sixers past Knicks

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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As if things hadn’t been bad enough lately for the New York Knicks, they got Wednesday night in Philadelphia. They got T.J. McConnell.

The Derrick Rose Saga at least temporarily passed as he returned to the New York lineup two days after going AWOL, only to have the other reminders of a season fast spinning away from the Knicks show up, the latest in the form of a 98-97 loss to the 76ers when T.J. McConnell hit a 12-footer from the left baseline as time expired.

McConnell’s dagger gave the Knicks their ninth loss in 10 games, while Philadelphia got its 11th win to surpass its entire win total from 2015-16. The standings were the ultimate statement on the big-picture impact of the impact of the buzzer beater: the 76ers are only two spots and 4½ games behind the New York team that opened 2016-17 thinking playoffs.

DIFFICULTY – The shot was challenging, but so was the entire possession. The 76ers collected the defensive rebound with about six seconds remaining after Kristaps Porzingis missed a corner three that would have all but iced the game for the Knicks. Gerald Henderson pushed Philly into the front court and passed to Ersan Ilyasova at the 3-point arc. Ilyasova spotted McConnell open near the baseline. McConnell got the ball with two seconds left, took one dribble toward the basket, found his path cut off by Carmelo Anthony, spun to create space, squared, and released. That was no easy possession and, even if Anthony couldn’t be bothered to put up a hand to contest the shot, that was no clean look by McConnell.

GAME SITUATION – The 76ers were in full scramble mode, down one and on the verge of losing to the sinking, troubled Knicks. Philadelphia had already survived the scare of Joel Embiid spraining an ankle late in the first half, before Embiid returned and finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Surviving the night, after New York had a 95-89 lead with 1:24 to play, came next.

CELEBRATION – The Sixers did that right too. McConnell jumped in the air and punched his right arm to the sky in joy. He has barely landed before being mobbed by teammates — Nerlens Noel, Embiid, Robert Covington right away and others soon. The home crowd responded in kind, with loud cheers to punctuate the well-deserved win.

GRADE – It’s Knicks-76ers in January — or Knicks-76ers at any time — so it won’t shake the standings too hard. But any win is important as Philly continues the climb back to respectability, and this kind is win adds a special emotional value. Plus the impressive final possession and the tough shot itself.

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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