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 Philadelphia 76ers will have to chalk this one up as a learning experience.
After trailing for most of the game, the Houston Rockets pulled off a late rally – closing the game on a 9-0 run — to stun the young Sixers 105-104 on Eric Gordon’s corner 3-pointer.
With 6.9 seconds left and the Rockets down by two, Gordon inbounded the ball to Ryan Anderson, who handed off to James Harden going to his left. When the double-team came from Robert Covington and Joel Embiid, Harden stumbled to the floor, dishing the ball to Gordon, who had faded to the corner. With Embiid lunging toward him, Gordon gave the center a pump-fake, took one dribble to his right and launched over the outstretched arm of Covington and silenced the crowd in Philadelphia with the made triple.
DIFFICULTY: Gordon took 16 3-pointers (hitting five) on the night, but none was bigger or more difficult than his last. With two long-armed defenders in Embiid (7-0) and Covington (6-foot-9) and little room in the corner, Gordon had to think quickly and launch without hesitation. Gordon is having the best scoring year of his 10-year career, averaging 24.6 points through five games, but is still hitting just 26.8 percent of his 3-point attempts. Gordon didn’t hesitate and there was little doubt this one was going in, though, considering the way the Sixers mishandled the end of the game.
GAME SITUATION: Both teams played without key members. The Sixers were without No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, who is out with a sore right shoulder, and Houston was without starters Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza, placing even more emphasis on the backcourt duo of Gordon and Harden. Gordon (29) and Harden (27) combined for 56 points, but the Rockets found themselves down 104-96 with 3:05 left after a layup from Philly rookie Ben Simmons that had the big Philly crowd of 20,682 fans ecstatic sensing a big win over an elite Western Conference team. But Philly couldn’t convert down the stretch, with J.J. Redick (who finished with a team-high 22 points) missing a pair of 3s and Jerryd Bayless being forced into a terrible shot after Simmons dribbled down the clock on Philly’s final possession. Those miscues led to Houston’s final opportunity, and it only felt fitting that the Rockets would pull this one out.
CELEBRATION: As Gordon’s shot dropped in, James Harden, who had fallen to the floor on the play, flopped onto his back and raised both arms in celebration while Gordon raced down court with a single finger raised in the air before being mugged by his teammates at midcourt. The Sixers crowd, which had been energized all game, was left in a stunned silence as the Rockets raced off the floor.
GRADE: The winner was nice, but you almost got the feeling that it was coming, even though Gordon was 4-for-15 on 3s before the game-winner, considering the two teams involved and the way Philly faltered down the stretch. Gordon’s shot was nice, and it took some quick thinking and a quick release to get the shot off, but the level of difficulty wasn’t too high. Embiid and Covington did a good job defending the play, taking the ball out of Harden’s hands, but Gordon and the Rockets couldn’t be denied on this night. Three Horrys.