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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Andrew Wiggins. Russell Westbrook. Karl-Anthony Towns. Carmelo Anthony. Wiggins.
The final 37 seconds of play between Oklahoma City and Minnesota on Sunday night featured the kind of star-powered drama the best regular season games contain. Big shot after big shot was made, each one trumping the last until, as is fitting, the last word won the day.
Wiggins made sure he had that last say, burying a 3-pointer well behind the top of the arc as time expired to give the Timberwolves a dramatic 115-113 victory over the star-studded Thunder. The fourth-year forward capped off a solid all-around with 27 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals in 39 minutes.
It’s the final play that will be remembered most, however, and it was one that could signal to the rest of the NBA’s elite that Wiggins has arrived.
DIFFICULTY: Wiggins had to take the ball on the run from the backcourt, as Minnesota had no timeouts after Carmelo Anthony’s clutch 3-pointer put the Thunder up by one with 4.7 seconds remaining. A big assist goes to Karl-Anthony Towns, whose physical screen took Paul George out of the defensive equation long enough for Wiggins to get a clear running start in the dead-center portion of the court. Two Thunder defenders closed in, but Wiggins still had plenty of daylight to get the shot off. That being said, pulling up on a dime from 30 feet out and using glass is no mean feat. The real question is, did he call bank? We’re guessing not.
Reporter to Wiggins: “Did you call glass?” Wiggins: “Nah, I didn’t.” Karl: “He called game.”
GAME SITUATION: It says something big about Wiggins that he went toe-to-toe with far more established clutch-time performers in the game’s final minute. Watching Westbrook and Anthony plunge daggers into his team only to say, “I’ll raise you,” says a lot about Wiggins’ potential to carry a team when it’s needed. Don’t forget, this was at Oklahoma City, one of the toughest places to play in the league. Minnesota’s young forward deserves a lot of credit not just for making the shot, but for acting decisively in the time and situation he was facing.
CELEBRATION: Wiggins was the hero, but this was a team win. Towns and Taj Gibson each finished with big double-doubles, while Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague also stuffed the stat sheet and made big play after big play. Wiggins lets out a gutteral roar and a low fist pump before immediately embracing Gibson at midcourt, where they’re joined by an immediate mosh pit of teammates and coaches. This was a big win for a young team hoping to take a big step, and that couldn’t have been more evident in the way they celebrated the victory.
GRADE: It’s game three of the regular season, so the Thunder will likely be over this by the time the calendar flips to 2018. For Minnesota, however, it’s the kind of victory that could inject some tangible belief into the promise this season held for it. Towns put up historic numbers last season, and Butler was the team’s marquee offseason acquisition. Wiggins was the big X-factor, one on which the Timberwolves gambled by signing him to a maximum multi-year extension less than two weeks ago. Give him credit for rewarding that faith with the biggest shot of his career in a quality Western Conference matchup. 3 1/2 Horrys.