Horry Scale: Nikola Jokic stuns Warriors with 39-foot buzzer-beater

Denver’s star big man delivers an improbable 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Nuggets rally from 18 down to escape with a win.

Nikola Jokic discusses Denver’s comeback win over the Warriors, being unselfish and the team constantly looking to get better.

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.

* * *

He may not have called glass, but it didn’t matter.

Nikola Jokic saved his best for last Thursday night at Chase Center, banking in a 39-footer to beat the buzzer and shock the Warriors, 130-127.

Jokic’s heroics helped the Nuggets rally from an 18-point deficit and close out the game on a 25-4 run. The 2-time Kia MVP finished the game with 34 points (13-for-16 FGs), nine rebounds and 10 assists.

 

GAME SITUATION: For much of the game, especially the second half, Stephen Curry and the Warriors controlled the game. Midway through the fourth quarter, Golden State secured an 18-point lead. But slowly, Jokic and his teammates chipped away, eventually pulling even with Golden State at 117-117 with 3.6 seconds left.

DIFFICULTY: Aaron Gordon inbounded the ball, and it looked like Jamal Murray was the first option. But Gordon had to go to his second option, which was Jokic. Denver’s big man took the pass in the backcourt and took a few dribbles up court against Kevon Looney.

With Looney right in his face, Jokic pulled up from 39 feet to launch with just under a second left and banked in the game-winning 3-pointer as the buzzer went off.

 

CELEBRATION: Typically void of much emotion on the court, Jokic let the emotion run free after hitting the winner. The big man raised his arm, jumped in the air and then ran toward halfcourt as his teammates mobbed him. When in doubt, put the ball in the big man’s hands and something good usually happens. Case, meet point.

 

GRADE: Jokic’s winner was impressive and helped the Nuggets storm back from a big deficit. But … it was the regular season, and a tie game – if he misses, the game goes to OT rather than on the record as a loss. Yet the degree of difficulty was there, and it came on the road in a hostile arena. 4 Horrys.

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