Savvy/Shabby: Lakers vs. Nets

This week’s Savvy/Shabby will be taking a look at on court execution. First, we have the Lakers, who were able to keep their heads during a chaotic loose-ball situation, eventually getting an easy basket out of it. Second, we are going to look at the poor execution by the New Jersey Nets on their final possession against the Dallas Mavericks.

Lakers Recover A Loose Ball

Towards the end of the third quarter, Kobe Bryant put up a three-pointer six seconds in the shot clock from the top of the key. The rebound comes off of the rim funny, and a loose ball situation ensues. This is where we pick up the play:

As the basketball is bouncing around, Kobe taps the ball into the backcourt to Derek Fisher. Fisher picks up the basketball, and after a few cross court passes, Lamar Odom ends up with an easy lay-up. There are a lot of things that I really love about this play:

  • First, Kobe’s awareness of the situation. Kobe knows that nobody on the Lakers had possession of the basketball after it came off of the rim. With no possession established, Kobe knows he can tap the ball to Fisher in the backcourt without it being a backcourt violation.
  • Derek Fisher’s awareness. Once Fisher picks the basketball up, he sees two defenders on him. Instead of trying to dribble past both defenders, he passes the ball into the frontcourt, understanding that his team has a man advantage.
  • Kobe doesn’t settle. Artest kicks the basketball to Kobe on the wing where he is wide open. Off of a loose ball situation like this, taking a three can be justified. Instead, Kobe makes the catch on the run, penetrates, and dumps it off to Lamar Odom. Odom finishes with ease.

Just a great play all around by everyone involved, showing the Lakers’ basketball smarts as a whole.

Nets Fail To Get A Good Look

While I can praise the Lakers’ basketball IQ, I can only shake my head at the New Jersey Nets and their execution against the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks had a 1-point lead with 6 seconds left, and the Nets were looking to get a good look to try and win the game. They got the opposite.

As the ball goes to the trigger man, Brook Lopez loops around and sets a screen for Devin Harris, who started this sideline set in front of him.

Harris uses the screen to run into the backcourt looking for the pass.  I don’t really like this decision by Avery Johnson. Throwing it in the backcourt with 6 seconds left means the only option you have is a Devin Harris speed attack to the rim. Harris can get to the rim, but not constantly. To make things worse, Jordan Farmar throws a terrible pass into the front court opposite of where Harris was running.

Harris had to make an adjustment as the ball was in mid-flight, and when he makes the catch, things are now thrown off because this is the opposite side of where the play was drawn up.

The Nets recover, and Kris Humphries comes over to set a screen for Devin Harris as Brook Lopez sets up on the ball-side block. Harris uses the screen, and it looks like things are back on the right track.

As Harris picks up the basketball, Brook Lopez has great post position in the paint. A quick entry pass would give Lopez just enough time to make the catch and a quick post move for the basket.

Instead, Devin Harris jumps in the air without really knowing where he is going with the basketball. Harris gets caught in the air, and throws a slow bounce pass to Farmar on the wing.

Because Harris was caught in the air, he wasn’t really able to get enough mustard on the pass, and it takes way too much time to get to Farmar. Farmar makes the catch, but the slow pass allows the defense to recover. Farmar’s shot is an airball, and the Nets lose the game.  Here is the play in real time:

I think the biggest mistake made by the Nets here was not getting the ball into Brook Lopez on the block. Sure, he is regressing this year, but when Lopez makes the catch on the block, he can usually finish. A couple nights later against the Cavs, he was able to finish in the post on a last-second play even while Ryan Hollins played the bongos on his back.

Another pretty bad mistake was Harris getting himself caught in the air. Getting caught in the air meant that Harris couldn’t get any zip on the basketball, and once that happened, any chance of scoring on that possession went away.

Team wide basketball smarts and IQ are very important because they are needed in situations like we looked at today. You watch these plays and you can tell which team is the defending champions and which team is struggling to get wins.