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Next Best Things
Phil Taylor
November 10, 1997
Most teams run a play for their star player in last-second situations, but defenses often force the go-to guy to go to someone else. Here are some of the role players (listed in order of ability and accomplishment) known for being willing and able to make the clutch shot.
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November 10, 1997

Next Best Things

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Most teams run a play for their star player in last-second situations, but defenses often force the go-to guy to go to someone else. Here are some of the role players (listed in order of ability and accomplishment) known for being willing and able to make the clutch shot.

Mario Elie, Rockets—Earned his reputation with his Kiss of Death shot in the 1995 Western semifinals. He hit the jumper to seal a Houston win and eliminate Phoenix, then turned and blew a kiss at the Suns' bench.

Sam Cassell, Nets—Shocked everyone with fearless play as a Houston rookie in '94 Finals when he scored seven points in the last 32.9 seconds, including a three-pointer to clinch the win against the Knicks in Game 3. He's known for his ability to get into the lane and create a shot for himself or a teammate.

Ron Harper, Bulls—Doesn't take the last shot of the game, not with Michael Jordan around, but he does make crucial fourth-quarter shots that either bury an opponent or keep Chicago in position to win. "He hits the shots that make the game-winners possible," says Elie.

John Starks, Knicks—Beat the Suns with a jumper at the buzzer last season, but there are those who feel he is too willing to take the big shot. In the '94 Finals, with New York one win away from a championship and trailing Houston by two in Game 6, Starks took a three-pointer instead of getting the ball inside to Patrick Ewing. Hakeem Olajuwon deflected the shot, and the Knicks eventually lost the series.

James Robinson, Clippers—Was surprisingly effective in the clutch during his three years as a Trail Blazers reserve, including hitting game-winning three-pointers against the Lakers and the Toronto Raptors in the 1995-96 season. "He wasn't the guy you would run the play for, but he had a knack for winding up with the ball in key situations," says P.J. Carlesimo, who coached Robinson in Portland. "Some guys run from the ball in those situations. James would run to it."

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