Savvy/Shabby: Lakers vs. Kings

Sebastian Pruiti is the mastermind behind NBA Playbook. He’s here to share some insights…

This week’s edition of Savvy/Shabby is going to take a look at some play calls, both by the coaches and the players. On the good side of things, we are going to look at a freelance play between Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol that results in an easy lob. On the opposite end, we are going to look at a play drawn up by Kings coach Paul Westphal that lead to his center taking a game-tying three point attempt.

The Pau Gasol To Kobe Bryant Connection

In their game against the New York Knicks, the Lakers were able to pull away in the second half. This lob from Pau Gasol to Kobe Bryant is what seemed to really get the Lakers going.


As Ron Artest brings up the basketball, he gets it to Pau Gasol on the wing. After making his pass, Artest cuts to the ball-side corner, completing the Lakers’ triangle. The big thing to notice here is that the Lakers have a mismatch with Kobe Bryant being defended by Raymond Felton on the weak side block.


Once Artest clears Gasol, Bryant starts towards the high post. This is a set that the Lakers like to run out of the triangle to allow Bryant to work ISO’d up out of the high post. Raymond Felton reads the play and he starts to try and deny Bryant at the high post.


Kobe puts his foot on the ground and cuts backdoor, totally burning Felton as he goes for the steal at the high post. An advantage of the Lakers’ triangle set is that the triangle overloads the ball side, freeing up the backside, opening up the court for backdoor lobs like this one.


With no help on the backside, Bryant is able to easily rise up, make the catch, and finish the lob with a dunk. Here is the play in real time:

What is really great to watch is the connection that Pau and Kobe have on this play. If you watch the play again, you notice that Pau is throwing the ball right before Kobe makes his cut. He knew what Kobe was going to do at the same time, if not before, Kobe did. That is what allows the lob to arrive on time and on point.

Paul Westphal’s Final Play In Washington

Last night’s Sacramento-Washington game featured a lot of shabby plays, especially¬†in the 4th quarter and in overtime. However, this one with the Kings down three with 2.1 seconds left probably takes the terrible-tasting cake.


As the ball gets handed to the trigger man, the Kings set two pindown screens on both sides of the court. You have Francisco Garcia and Beno Udrih coming off the screens and heading towards the top of the key.


The problem with setting the same screens and having the same cut coming off of them is that both players are going to meet in the same spot, effectively taking themselves out of the play. That is exactly what happens here as Garcia and Udrih both run to the top of the key.


You now have your two best three point shooters standing on the same spot of the court, unopen. With no timeouts, Casspi is forced to enter the ball to DeMarcus Cousins who fires up the three pointer, hitting the top of the backboard and bouncing it off of the shot clock. Here is the play in real time:

The first problem with this play is that Westphal has his two best shooters running to the same spot and muddling up the top of the key. The second problem that I have with Westphal’s call is that DeMarcus Cousins is the only other option here. If Westphal was really determined to run this play — and for his own sake, I hope he throws this one out of the playbook — I’d like to see Pooh Jeter (the man setting the screen on the weakside) and DeMarcus Cousins flipping sides. That simple change turns Jeter into the backup plan, and since he is the better shooter, it makes much more sense.

A large part of basketball is floor spacing, and in these two plays you saw what both good floor spacing (overloading the ball-side with the triangle, clearing space for the Kobe lob) and bad floor spacing (Westphal sending two shooters to the same spot on the court) can do to an offense. Until next week.