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B/R NBA Staff: Devonte' Graham and Our Favorite Buzzer-Beaters Since 2000

Bleacher Report NBA StaffFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2021

New Orleans Pelicans guard Devonte' Graham (4) celebrates with teammates after hitting the game winning basket to end the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

We finally have proof we're living in some glitchy video game simulation.

Wednesday night in Oklahoma City, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gave NBA fans a timeline-scroll-stopper of a highlight when he seemingly sent his Thunder and the New Orleans Pelicans to overtime with this blindly low-percentage shot. It was a genuine jaw-dropper that had virtually zero chance of being topped.

But then Devonte' Graham hoisted a near-full-court buzzer-beater about-face from the Oklahoma prairie that absolutely must be seen to be believed:

NO! WHAT. DID. WE. JUST. SEE?! 

You won't find a wackier back-and-forth ending in the archives than that. Is it truly singular? Probably. In any case, we asked our staff writers to give us their other favorite buzzer-beaters from the last 20 years. Because that felt as unbelievable as any ending we've ever seen.

                

Bang! Bang! (2016)

Stephen Curry was at the height of his powers in 2015-16. Prior to a Feb. 27 matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he'd gone for 51 and 42 in his two previous appearances.

But nothing he did in those contests left the impression that this game-winning buzzer-beater did. With the score tied and time running down against an OKC squad with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Curry pulled up from a few feet inside half court, launched a three over Andre Roberson and drew the rare double-bang from Mike Breen.

The legendary play-by-play commentator obviously had the first "Bang!" keyed up. The second one sounded involuntary, as though the jubilation of the moment simply couldn't be contained.

—Andy Bailey

               

Dame Waves Goodbye (2019)

Everything about this buzzer-beater from Damian Lillard was ridiculous. He ended what felt like some sort of prove-something effort from Russell Westbrook. He released the ball to the right of the half-court logo, after a sidestep and with Paul George putting a hand up. And he sent the Thunder home from the first round of the 2019 playoffs with a wave and one of the most memorable looks at the camera we've ever seen.

—Andy Bailey

           

Ray Allen Changes History (2013)

We've all heard the story. The champagne was out. The league was getting ready to wheel the San Antonio Spurs' 2013 championship trophy onto the floor following Game 6.

And then, Gregg Popovich left Tim Duncan out of the game on a critical possession, Chris Bosh snagged a rebound over multiple wings and kicked out to a backpedaling Ray Allen, and Allen hit one of the most memorable game-tying threes in league history.

The Miami Heat went on to win that one in overtime and then wrapped up the series in the next game. And though that set up a heck of a revenge storyline for 2014, it's still tough not to think about what might have been had Allen missed.

—Andy Bailey

              

D-Rose and LeBron Trade Daggers (2015)

The 2015 second-round playoff series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls featured two wild game-winners in back-to-back games. In Game 3, Derrick Rose banked in a 30-foot heave to seal a 99-96 win and give Chicago a 2-1 lead. Then, things got weird.

LeBron James returned the favor in Game 4 to tie the series after head coach David Blatt attempted to call a timeout that the officials missed—which would have resulted in a technical foul given that the Cavs had no timeouts at the time. After the game, James revealed that Blatt had originally drawn up a play for which he would have inbounded the ball, which James shut down. Asked about it, Blatt compared himself to a "fighter pilot" because of the many decisions a coach has to make in a game. 

After James bailed out his coach and team in Game 4, Cleveland won the next two games to win the series and then swept the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals, while the Bulls fired head coach Tom Thibodeau. It was one of the most memorable, and consequential, second-round series in recent memory.

—Sean Highkin

            

Tracy McGrady Drops 13 Points in 33 Seconds (2004)

You'd think an eight-point lead with barely a half-minute remaining would guarantee a victory for the Spurs. Apparently not.

Tracy McGrady's 33-second onslaught was legend colliding with reality. It included everything: pull-up threes, a four-point play, a mission-critical turnover by San Antonio and more pull-up threes.

It is not a stretch to call this a one-man comeback. It's accurate. T-Mac scored 13 straight points, entirely on his own, in 33 friggin' seconds, to convert a surefire loss into one of the greatest, most volcanic come-from-behind displays in league history. You can't watch the highlights and not sense the lava coursing through his veins.

—Dan Favale

              

Jeff Green for the Green (2013)

Remember all the praise and adulation Brad Stevens used to get for his after-timeout play-calling? The one that put his skills on the map occurred in Miami on Nov. 9, 2013, at the early stages of what would be Stevens' first and only season as the Celtics' head coach that did not include a trip to the playoffs.

Trailing 110-108 with 0.6 seconds to play and no timeouts left, Stevens had Gerald Wallace inbound the ball, in front of the Heat bench, to Jeff Green. He was rolling toward the other side of the court and was able to find a sliver of space in the corner. It was just enough time to catch Wallace's pass and launch an in-rhythm three-pointer over LeBron James' outstretched hands with the shot hitting nothing but net to cap off a furious last-second win for the Celtics over the defending champion Heat.

What's often lost in the buzzer-beating win for Boston was how a Dwyane Wade mishap led to the game-winning play. Trailing 110-106 to the Heat, Wallace scored with 1.6 seconds to play. Boston fouled Wade with 0.6 seconds left, and he missed the first free throw and then intentionally missed the second, but it bounced off the backboard without hitting the rim.

That allowed the Celtics to call a timeout with no time coming off the clock so they could set up what became the game-winning inbounds play. It not only helped spark a Celtics win but also set into motion the legend of Stevens when it comes to after-timeout calls.

 —A. Sherrod Blakely

              

Derek Fisher and Tim Duncan Trade Absurdities (2004) 

Congratulations to anyone who watched Tim Duncan and Derek Fisher exchange circus heroics in Game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals. This ending was hallucinatory.

First, with less than six seconds to play, Manu Ginobili inbounded the ball to Duncan. He went left, with his left hand, and got off a shot over Shaquille O'Neal—who, by the way, is not a slight human. Duncan's off-balance fadeaway found the bottom of the bucket, giving San Antonio a one-point lead with 0.4 seconds left to play. Game, Spurs…right?

Wrong! Fisher caught an inbounds pass from Gary Payton and, in one sweeping, accelerative motion, stopped, turned and fired off a fadeaway-heave-holy-crap-thingamajig over Ginobili for the victory. The Lakers went up 3-2 in the series and would advance to the Western Conference Finals in Game 6. Just, whoa.

—Dan Favale

               

Dame Sends Rockets Home (2014)

Damian Lillard wasted little time morphing into the NBA's foremost crunch-time superhero. In just his second season, and only the sixth playoff game of his career, he nailed not merely a game-winner, but a series-ender over the Rockets.

The feat is made even more dramatic by its absence of time. The Blazers were inbounding the ball with under one second to play and facing a two-point deficit. Dame proceeded to drill a long bomb over the 6'9" Chandler Parsons to punch Portland's ticket into the second round…as a sophomore…at the age of 23.

There are, quite literally, no words. Dame's clutchness long ago gobbled up all of them.

—Dan Favale