Brooklyn Nets

Brook Lopez’s buzzer-beater lifts Brooklyn Nets over Detroit Pistons

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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This just in: The Brooklyn Nets have a highlight this season. Repeat: The Brooklyn Nets have a highlight.

It took until March 21, until the 70th game of a season they can’t escape fast enough, until the final millisecond of one of the final home contests, but there it was Tuesday night, a Brook Lopez baseline jumper at the buzzer for the last of his 29 points and a 98-96 victory over the Pistons.

In a 2016-17 with little to celebrate, now at 14-56 and all but assured of finishing with the worst record in the league, this will be one of the keepers. Not just a Brooklyn victory. But a Brooklyn victory that could have playoff implications, depending whether Detroit is able to push back into seventh or eighth place in the Eastern Conference by the end of the regular season. Fall short because of one loss and the Pistons may end up replaying late-March in Barclays Center all summer.

DIFFICULTY: This was no easy look. Lopez got the ball 15 feet from the basket, near the sideline in front of the Detroit bench, with 2.4 seconds remaining. He dribbled, split a double-team, seemed to almost lose control of the ball, and flicked up a jumper while falling backward and as his momentum carried him to the baseline. Hardly perfect execution. But a perfect outcome for the Nets.

GAME SITUATION: The Pistons had made up an 11-point deficit from early in the fourth quarter, reeling the Nets in because, well, the Nets. Ish Smith had scored 12 of his 16 points for Detroit in the final period, relegating starter Reggie Jackson to the bench. The visitors needed to survive one final Brooklyn possession to get into overtime at 96-96, with the momentum after the late charge and with much more at stake. Then Lopez took the in-bound pass with 2.4 seconds remaining and delivered the dagger.

CELEBRATION: Was Caris LeVert trying to hurt Lopez with that bear hug around the neck? Was Lopez channeling months of frustration and losses with the harsh look as he was being mobbed? Yeah, this was a big deal for the Nets and they celebrated like it. They rushed from the bench at the other end and jumped on and around the hero of the night. If Lopez was locked in for the final shot, so too did he look intense in the middle of the party. There haven’t been many moments for Brooklyn. He was going to savor it when one did come.

GRADE: It should be recorded as an Incomplete because the true meaning won’t be known for weeks, until the end of the regular season and the true impact on the Pistons is known. If they miss the playoffs by one loss, the value of the shot goes through the roof. If they make the playoffs or miss by more than the distance of a Lopez baseline jumper, it’s another fun finish of just another game. For now, based on possibilities and the difficulty of the shot, it’s Three Horrys.

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