Buzzer beater breakdown
December, 9, 2010
By Henry Abbott
A few things I love about these highlights: DeAndre Jordan's finish was not at all easy. Hats off to him for being incredibly explosive.
Also, how fantastic for basketball in Los Angeles, generally, that fans are up, loud and crazy cheering for both home teams at once. That's like a city high school championship game. Great stuff.
On Derek Fisher's game-winning bucket, I'm mindful of a quote from the book Phil Jackson recently published with photographer Andrew Bernstein. Jackson says he teaches players a "'direct line' principle -- if no one is between you and the basket, go there." A great example of that, he says, is Derek Fisher on this big play in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. And now again last night, when the Clipper defense was blatantly hypnotized by the prospect of another Bryant jumper.
Watch how Andrew Bogut gets his angle to the rim: Brandon Jennings, miniature pick-setter.
A few things to notice: The story of the Pacers' season has been the emergence of Roy Hibbert, who, it should be pointed out, is unbelievably tall. But Hibbert was guarding the inbound pass for this play.
I called David Thorpe to ask him what he would have had Jeff Foster, Hibbert's replacement, do on this play. It's tough to keep a seven-footer like Bogut from getting a hand up by the rim.
His response is that Foster made a glaring error in his starting position, before the ball is even in inbounded: "The whole team looks more concerned about the catch-and-shoot. See how they're hugging their guys, all over the court? The last thing you want to give up is a seven-footer -- and not just any seven-footer, but a former top overall pick -- at the rim. He's hugging Bogut 18-feet from the hoop, but what's the threat there? The real threat is at the rim."
Foster made himself easy to back-screen, because it was clear the whole time exactly where he would be -- attached to Bogut. And the screen prevented him from having the freedom and timing to elevate and meet the ball.
UPDATE: Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook makes the case for playing zone in such instances, to protect the rim.