Not all clutch three-pointers are made the same, as Carmelo Anthony showed on Sunday against Chicago. His threes to tie and win the Easter classic came with at least 10 seconds left in the game but caught the Bulls unaware each time precisely because of the timing.
But sometimes you don’t have that luxury of time he did. In fact, 18 times this season before Sunday, a three-pointer in the last 20 seconds has taken the lead, according to Basketball Reference. Twelve came within the last 10 seconds; nine within the final 5 ticks.
So in the spirit of Anthony’s shots that would have made Sam Cassell do his swing-swing celebration, here are this year’s top 10 clutch three-pointers, ranked by how late they were made.
10. Denver’s Ty Lawson made his three to take the lead against Sacramento on March 5 from 24 feet after using the small hop to keep his defender back. Anticipating a drive and dish, the Kings got beat by a confident stroke from deep.
9. Hint: This isn’t Kevin Durant‘s sole entry on this list. On this shot on March 23 he calmly walks his defender to the line, steps back and fires. Interestingly, KD is just 6-of-24 in three-pointers in the last 2 minutes of games with the score within five points, but two of them made this list.
8. Denver’s Danilo Gallinari took a toss from Nene like a running back and drilled a three to go up one on Atlanta with 3.9 seconds left on March 13. This could very well be the most difficult shot to make on this whole list, what with Josh Smith and Joe Johnson all over him, while fading away in the corner. This is the type of shot you practice in your driveway without considering actually shooting it in a game.
7. If you’re Dallas do you run two guys at Kobe and risk Derek Fisher wide open? The Mavs did on Jan. 16 and he hit a “dagger three” in front of Dirk to win with 3.1 seconds left.
6. Vince Carter‘s shot with 1.4 seconds left put Dallas ahead 102-101 on Dec. 29, but it’s the only three this late that didn’t win it for a team. Don’t watch the end of this video if you don’t want to be spoiled, but we think you know how it ends, anyway.
5. Mr. Big Shot Chauncey Billups did it again on Jan. 18, drilling a three to go up with a second left in the Clippers’ win. What killed Dallas is not covering the inbounder after the pass to Blake Griffin. In front of Jason Terry â€” who has hit three shots himself in the final two minutes to tie or lead this season â€“ Billups splashes the winner. The Clippers miss Billups’ vet presence after his Achilles’ injury and shots like these.
4. This shot co-opted a Valentine’s Day into Va-LIN-tine’s Day. Tied at 87, Jeremy Lin had his signature shot during his insane run for the Knicks, beating Toronto with 0.9 left. He said afterward that he’d asked then-coach Mike D’Antoni to let him go iso on Jose Calderon as the play began. With Toronto’s home court sounding like Madison Square Garden North, Lin calmly walked Calderon to where he wanted before delivering. Cold-blooded.
3. Did the Clippers think Kevin Love couldn’t shoot the three or something? They left the T-Wolf wide open on Jan. 20 at the top of the key for a back-breaking, game-winning three with 0.9 left. The relative of a Beach Boy member must have had good vibrations to go for a three with the game tied, and maybe the Clips expected him to get closer on his attempt.
2. Do you remember this one? We wouldn’t have without the help of Basketball Reference, but indeed Jordan Farmar followed Love’s lead and broke the Clippers with 0.2 left on the clock on March 7. Even better than Farmar’s shot is the dime by Deron Williams. After shaking his defender on the inbounds, he leaves Chris Paul diving in a passing lane in vain stop his bullet to Farmar. Even Farmar looks to say, “How did you get me that?” afterward.
1. You knew KD’s spot at No. 1 was reserved after dropping a stunner on Dallas on Dec. 29 from 28 feet. It put the Thunder up 104-102 at the bell and kicked off what’s been a special season for OKC. It also brings up this question that’s haunted defensive coaches all year: Where exactly does Durant’s shooting range end?
What was the hardest shot on this list to make?
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