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Horry Scale: Jamal Murray's game-winner caps 20-point comeback over Lakers

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Jamal Murray drills the stepback jumper over Anthony Davis as time expires in Game 2.

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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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Denver was widely regarded as the favorite to win the Western Conference entering the 2024 NBA playoffs, yet no one was predicting a cakewalk back to the NBA Finals for the defending champs.

That fact was made clear in Game 2 of the Nuggets’ first-round series against the Lakers, who led Denver by as much as 20 points. The Nuggets slowly cut into the lead, then tied the game.

Jamal Murray capped the comeback with a game-winning stepback jumper, sending the Denver faithful into a jubilant frenzy and the series to Los Angeles with the Nuggets leading 2-0.


GAME SITUATION: Denver dodged a bullet in the prior possession when LeBron James missed a wide-open straightaway 3-pointer. The Nuggets played on with 14 seconds left in a tie game after trailing by 20. The home atmosphere was electric, especially as the franchise’s two biggest stars — Nikola Jokic and Murray — began their pick-and-roll.

DIFFICULTY: Murray kept the ball and his dribble after drawing Anthony Davis in a defensive switch. Davis, a historically dominant defender, stayed in front and even contested Murray’s 15-foot stepback jumper. Murray, who missed 16 of his first 19 shots, capped a 14-point, 6-for-8 fourth quarter with pure net and the win as time expired.

CELEBRATION: Murray, his teammates and the Nuggets’ fan base have a special and organic connection. From being drafted seventh overall in 2016 to missing the entire 2021-22 season with an ACL tear to helping lead Denver to its first NBA championship, Murray’s journey is the Nuggets’ journey. That special meaning was evident as his teammates, led by the Jokic, mobbed and joy-shouted him into the floor near the team bench. The fans were a churning sea of celebration, newly minted witnesses to the latest chapter of the franchise’s best era.

SPEECHLESS pic.twitter.com/es7yXY9r8V

— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) April 23, 2024

GRADE: The difficulty is unquestioned. A stepback jumper by a small guard over a defensive legend of a big man? In the postseason? With the special player, team and setting involved? The only thing preventing a perfect score here is the stakes. The game was tied rather than featuring a win-or-lose margin, and it was Game 2 in a first-round series. There is zero doubt that this is one of the greatest plays in Nuggets history and immediately a historic playoff moment.

4.5 Horrys.

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