So the Knicks game was a big disappointment. This was the Nets final chance to get a win before a brutal west coast swing and most likely a new record in futility. The Nets scored 91 points, and while some of that had to do with the return of Devin Harris, it also was because the Nets’ played right into the Knicks’ hands. They were flying up and down the court, taking quick shots, and playing little defense. That final point is what disappointed me the most. The Nets have been playing great defense as of late, and they really took a step back on Saturday, especially when defending the 3. They allowed the Knicks to shoot above their season total from the 3 point line (31% on the year/35% in the game). A lot of it had to do with poor rotation, resulting in wide open 3s. Here we are going to take a look at 2 wide open threes the Knicks got, netting them 6 points (Big points when you realize the Nets lost by 7).
Defending Danilo Gallinari
Look at the above picture for a moment. I mean really examine it. There isn’t a better picture that sums up a game between an 0-12 team and a 3-9 team. I mean you got David Lee falling and tripping Chris Duhon, Brook watching the whole thing, Rafer Alston covering nobody, and nobody within 10 feet of maybe the best 3 point shooter in the NBA. Let’s look how this play developed:
After a going around a pick set by Wilson Chandler, Chris Duhon gets Rafer Alston on his hip and attacks the basket. In yellow, I drew up the rotations that should happen. Brook needs to get across the lane and meet Duhon, CDR then needs to slide in front of David Lee to prevent the dump off, and Josh Boone needs to stay exactly where he is, keeping an eye on Gallinari, the Knicks’ best shooter. The idea of this rotation is to force Duhon into making a difficult pass along the baseline, to the lesser of two 3-point shooters. It seems like everyone is on their way to doing the correct thing, but as you are going to see, just one mistake can blow up everything.
Brook Lopez meets Duhon at the block, and CDR is in exactly the right spot. He is standing right in the passing lane, to force either a lob pass that would let him recover, or a pass that would force Hughes towards the baseline, making him move his feet. Josh Boone on the other hand, well, he is just in the wrong spot all together. Not only is he too deep in the lane, but he has his back to Gallinari (if the pass gets made, he has to turn all the way around, and then close out on him), the Knicks’ best shooter (who happens to be shooting 44.8% from the 3-point line). To compound the error, the angle that Josh Boone closes on Duhon, allows for a huge lane to pass the ball in. So why is Boone that deep? Simple, he doesn’t know his responsibility in the rotation. For some reason, he thinks that his job is to meet Duhon in the block, and he thinks that someone will be picking up Gallinari. You can’t have 4 players doing something and one person do completely the opposite. That’s how breakdowns happen, and when you have trouble scoring like the Nets, you just can’t be giving away points like this. Here is the play in real time (well, in slowmotion actually…just to enforce the point):
Giving Up “The Dagger”
When you are playing the Knicks, a 15 point lead is like a 2 point lead. The Nets were able to cut a 15 point lead down to 4 with 1 minute left. All they needed was one more stop, and they had a chance. They didn’t get the stop though, what resulted was another breakdown playing man-to-man defense.
Here you have Chris Duhon walking the ball up, and Devin getting ready to play some defense. This late in the game, I would like to see Devin up closer on Duhon, but it’s understandable why he is so far back. It’s his first game back from injury, he’s not used to game speed, and he doesn’t want Duhon to blow by him. You can see the Nets are in straight man-to-man.
The initial play was run for Wilson Chandler coming off a David Lee screen. Terrence Williams does a fantastic job of denying Chandler, so Duhon, who has picked up his dribble now has nowhere to go. Now, Devin should be all over Duhon, he doesn’t have his dribble, so there is no threat of him going by Devin. If Harris gets up on Duhon, who knows, he could force a turnover.
Instead, Duhon is allowed to survey the court and get the ball to David Lee who immediately tosses it back to Duhon so he can dribble once more. Lee sets a pick for Duhon, who uses it and dribbles towards the baseline. Notice where Trenton Hassell is. He is in correct help position now, but that is about to change.
As Duhon continues to dribble towards the baseline, Brook hedges the screen, not allowing him to get the basket. Devin has Duhon right on his hip. For some reason, Trenton Hassell decided to venture towards the action.
Duhon passes the ball to David Lee, and Trenton is right on him, but should he be. Hassell coming over has the result of 3 players covering 2 on the strong side, while only 2 guys are covering three on the weakside. Their is one question that is bugging me. Is this how it was drawn up by Lawrence Frank, or did Trenton Hassell make the mistake here. I am leaning towards the latter just by how Brook played the screen. He hedged real hard, almost begging Duhon to pass the ball to David Lee. Also, look at the shot clock, there are six seconds left on it when David Lee has the ball on the three point line. If Hassell is right on Harrington, David Lee would be forced into a real tough shot.
That doesn’t happen though. Hassell got way too close to Lee, and when he swings the ball, Hassell is too far away from Harrington and he can’t close out on time. I don’t need to show you what happened from there. I think this reaction from Al Harrington does the job:
Yeah, that sucks.