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Horry Scale: Daniel Gafford's point-blank putback saves Wizards


Daniel Gafford's follow-up shot with no time remaining lifts the Wizards past the 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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It’s safe to say the Washington Wizards have had a rollercoaster season. Led by former All-Stars Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, it’s almost impossible to count them out of any matchup, but also hard to count on them to win when they should.

Coming off an intense matchup with the Greek Freak on Sunday, it’s not surprising that the Wizards let an energized Detroit Pistons team take them down to the wire Tuesday night. But when star players are fatigued near the end of the game, role players like Daniel Gafford have an opportunity to step up. And Gafford did just that.

GAME SITUATION: After a tough basket by Beal tied the game at 117, the Wizards got a stop at the other end to set up the final possession. With 10 seconds left, Beal took the ball and sized up Rodney McGruder. After a quick hesitation move to his strong hand, Beal drove and put up a baseline floater that missed the rim entirely. Fortunately for the Wizards, nobody blocked out Gafford on the weak side, who scored on an unchallenged putback to win the game as the clock expired.

Daniel Gafford wins it for the Wizards on this last second putback 😱#TissotBuzzerBeater | #TimingEmotions pic.twitter.com/1vvxTJ8a2J

— NBA (@NBA) March 8, 2023

DIFFICULTY: The biggest challenge for Gafford was timing. Left all alone under the basket,  the 6-foot-10 center knew he’d have an easy putback if the ball fell his way, but there was precious little time to waste. Luckily for Gafford, he was able to grab the ball with both hands, softly push it off the glass, and then watch it go through the net as the buzzer sounded.

CELEBRATION: The party started almost as soon as Gafford landed on the floor. He veered toward his team’s bench and Washington’s reserves abandoned their seats and embraced the 24-year-old with intense shoves and head taps. The silence in Little Caesars Arena was deafening — except for the Wizards’ cheers.

GRADE: Although this was a major win for the Wizards in terms of their Play-In pursuit, it wasn’t enough to tip the Horry Scale. The Pistons currently sit last in the Eastern Conference standings, so the odds were in Washington’s favor from the jump. But props to Gafford for helping the Wizards avoid what would have been a gut-punch of a loss. 2.0 Horrys.

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