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Eric Freeman

Video: Brook Lopez and Rudy Gay rescue their teams with game-winners

Eric Freeman
Ball Don't Lie

One notable thing about game-winning shots is that they eclipse the roughly 48 minutes of play that came before. In the wake of a winning play, the pure joy of victory overcomes any misgivings that may have arisen from the rest of the game. That might not make much sense, logically, but it's sometimes enough to feel like you've escaped.

Last night, the Nets and Grizzlies both avoided disaster against the Cavaliers and Raptors, respectively. In case you forgot, those teams are currently in the midst of epic losing streaks: eight games for Toronto and 17 (!!!!!) for Cleveland. So even though you can look at these games as narrow losses for teams desperately in need of wins, they're more accurately examples of better teams getting their acts together and pulling out the victories.

Above, check out Brook Lopez's(notes) surprising jump hook winner against the Cavs. Below, please enjoy Gay's fadeaway jumper in the last second to slam the figurative refrigerator door in the face of the Raptors. There's also additional analysis of both plays!

Let's start with the first one, which is notable mostly for the fact that you rarely see teams go inside in the closing seconds of a game. For the most part, this is because big men are bad foul shooters, but Lopez is solid enough in that area that he's a legitimate option. Still, you have to wonder what the Cavs were thinking on this play, both for the fact that they didn't double-team Lopez and for Ryan Hollins's(notes) execrable attempt to foul Lopez with one to give. If you need to foul somebody, then wrap the guy up. Don't just flail aimlessly (or, as John Krolik said, "playing the bongo drums") and hope the ref helps you out. Likewise, who else were the Cavs worried about beating them to avoid the double-team? Sasha Vujacic(notes)? Kris Humphries(notes)?

Gay's shot is more palatable for the losers, if only because it's defended pretty well and Gay has shown that he wants the ball in key situations this season. This is the kind of play you usually associate with the best players in the league, and while Gay isn't there yet (and probably won't ever be), he did a fair imitation of a superstar when the Grizzlies really needed it.

So don't fret too much about that eight-game losing streak, Toronto, because you came close tonight. You certainly played better in the final seconds than Cleveland did.

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