Wednesday night against the Bulls, the Nets found themselves in a familiar position. Late in a close game with an opportunity to take a lead, the Nets came out of a timeout with a plan. Execution of these said plans hasn’t always been to snuff and in this particular case things didn’t go exactly as they were scripted, however, the basketball gods were kind to New Jersey tonight and a fortunate bounce went their way to get the Nets a much needed win over a surefire Eastern Conference playoff team. Let’s take a closer look.
Coming out of the timeout, New Jersey had a lineup of Devin Harris, Sasha Vujacic, Brook Lopez, Travis Outlaw and Kris Humphries. Chicago does not make it hard for New Jersey to get the ball inbounds, and when they do Devin Harris gets the catch near the top of the key.
Avery Johnson uses a Brook Lopez ball screen to cause some misdirection.
Here you can Brook begin to set a ball screen, which would be something Chicago was prepared for. This feigned ball screen is enough to occupy Brook Lopez’s man Kurt Thomas (here, arrowed in yellow) as his eyes are certainly fixed on the ball handler, Harris.
Brook then slips the screen and begins cutting hard back around toward the hoop, as Vujacic, the in-bounder, is coming up to set a back screen on Kurt Thomas for Brook Lopez to catch a lob.
As we heard from Avery Johnson in his post game comments, the first look was for Brook on the lob and if that wasn’t there, they were going to look for Sasha on the wing for an entry into Brook in the post. Well Devin felt he had enough of an opening to try the lob pass to Brook, and he may have been right, only problem is his pass was a little low.
Vujacic’s man, C.J. Watson, at this point is forced to stay tucked inside to give help on the lob, and he is the one who actually interrupts the pass to Lopez. The Nets are fortunate that his tip just so happens to bounce calmly in front of Vujacic who is now essentially unguarded. With all of the Bulls players looking at the lob, Sasha has a fairly uncontested look at the eventual game-winning basket. And the rest as they say..is history.
Here’s the play in slow motion and then live speed: