True Hoop Drew

I breakdown basketball constantly in my mind and occassionaly translate it into blog form

Kobe Bryant in the last 5 Lakers possessions vs. Boston

Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics last night 88-87 in overtime. Kobe Bryant was the leading scorer for the Lakers with 27 points and went 11-pf-24 from the floor.

The Lakers won the game but were close to losing it as Bryant made some questionable (expected) decision making down the stretch in overtime.

On the Lakers’ last five possessions in the game, Bryant went 0-for-3 from the field and basically disregarded any offense that the Lakers had set up.

With the score tied at 82, Bryant made his final field goal of the game on a horrible possession where he bailed out the Lakers hitting a fadeaway 20-footer over Ray Allen with 3:36 left in the game.
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NBA All-Star starters announced

NBA.com

Last night on TNT the NBA All-Star starters were revealed as voted by the fans. Yao Ming, Vince Carter and Allen Iverson all somehow were not selected. Those days are over at least.

Dwight Howard was the overall leading vote-getter and Kobe Bryant received the second most votes. I don’t think anyone really has a problem with that but the fans do tend to make the wrong choices every year voting more based on popularity than worth.

This season in particular the starters have been voted on very early into the season because of the lockout and the All-Star game remaining at its original date.

Below I will take a look at each selection and weigh in on whether or not it was the right choice.
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The Thunder’s pick-and-roll defense vs. the Clippers

Pick-and-roll defense is always going to be a huge point of emphasis when you play the Clippers. The Clippers run pick-and-roll plays as much as any team in the league and with Chris Paul at the helm are pretty efficient in doing so.

The pick-and-roll when shots are taken from the ball handler or roll man account for around 40 percent of the Clippers’ offense this season. Basically not counting passes kicked out to spot-up jumpers or secondary cutters.

Against the Thunder last night the Clippers only got 15 percent of their offense from the pick-and-roll ball handler and roll man. That’s because the Thunder are pretty good on defense and usually force their opponent into more isolation plays than usual (the Clippers took 32 percent of their shots on isolation plays).

The problem is that the Clippers had success when they did shoot off the pick-and-roll and a lot of success. They made 12-of-14 shots in the pick-and-roll game last night including all six of their shots when the roll man shot.

The Thunder’s pick-and-roll defense hasn’t been great this year and last night was a perfect example of why.

Here’s a look at a few of the pick-and-roll plays from last night’s game.
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The Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook pick-and-roll

hoopspeak.com

The Oklahoma City Thunder had a great fourth quarter in their win last Friday night over the Golden State Warriors. Despite turning the ball over 22 times in the game, they rode a 35-point final period to win 120-109.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were the lead catalysts in the game and especially down the stretch. Golden State couldn’t match up with either and Thunder head coach Scott Brooks took advantage of this.

The Thunder led Golden State by just three, 88-85, with 8:33 left in the game. From this point on Oklahoma City went with their Westbrook and Durant pick-and-roll play.

The play is simple and starts off with Westbrook bringing the ball down on the left wing. Nick Collison then screens for Durant to come across the top of the key and set a screen for Westbrook at the wing.
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Dwyane Wade returns in 99-89 win for Miami over New York

(Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Miami Heat got 10 dunks from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in their win Friday night over the New York Knicks. The game was close for awhile due to good long range shooting by the Knicks who went 18-for-43 from three in the game.

The Heat pulled away in the end and looked at their best with LeBron and Wade working together and making highlights. LeBron had 31-7-8 in the game and Wade 28 points and five steals.

I wrote earlier this week how the Heat looked better overall with Wade out of the lineup and LeBron running the show. I still feel like that is true to some extent but when they both get going like they did Friday night it can be pretty impressive and demoralizing for an opponent.
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Why Stephen Curry’s ordinary plays are still special

warriorsworld.net

Stephen Curry is one of the smartest players in basketball. He’s looked like a veteran ever since he entered the league in the 2009-10 season.

This year Curry has been sidelined for most of the year with injury but has since returned and had his best game yet of the season in a 101-93 win over the Portland Trailblazers last Wednesday night.

Curry had 32 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals in the game while going 6-of-8 from three-point land. Curry now has his averages back on pace from last year and should see an improvement as he plays more games.

Curry’s game is a lot like Steve Nash’s. He’s not the best athlete ever on the court but is quick and one of the more savvy decision-makers in the game.

Here we’ll look at two plays showing how Curry makes a couple of beautiful reads to get open for shots.
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Top 5 Passers in the NBA

If you watched the Knicks game last night (Carmelo Anthony in particular) and couldn’t stand it, then you’ll appreciate this list.

There are a lot of advanced statistics out there for basketball and believe me I am in love with all of them. When it comes to passing there’s more to it than just how many assists a guy racks up.

Any point guard running an offense can have a game where they get a lot of assists if their teammates just knock down shots. Every point guard throughout the course of a game will make at least 10-15 passes to players coming off screens for jump shots.

That’s why I’m not going just by the numbers. Point guards get more opportunities for assists, that’s no surprise.

I’m making this list taking everything into account. How do you stack up as a passer for your position? Are you also a threat to score which gives you more passing opportunities? Do you dribble the air out of the ball every possession or are you obsessed with ball movement?

These are questions that need to be asked when thinking up the best passers in the league. Everyone knows Chris Paul and LeBron James get a lot of assists but they also have the ball in their hands as much as anyone. They’re bound to get a ton of assists.

The truly great passers take advantage of every opportune moment within the flow of the game to give their team the highest percentage chance possible to make shots.
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Heat, LeBron better without Wade?

nbcsports.msnbc.com

LeBron James led the Miami Heat last night to a 98-87 victory over Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. He did this without Dwyane Wade. The Heat and LeBron are now 4-0 this season when Wade is on the sideline.

Is it possible that this Miami Heat team could be better when Dwyane Wade does not play? I think so and I’ve pretty much felt this way all along about LeBron.

My biggest issue with LeBron choosing to play with Wade was that we would now not see the true individual potential of LeBron reached. Had he gone to New York or stayed in Cleveland we would have gotten an entire career of LeBron playing at his peak.

When he plays with Wade, we will never see this totally. We get glimpses from time to time and they can team up for some pretty spectacular plays but for the entire course of a game or season, we don’t see it.

Far too often when you watch Wade and LeBron play together, there are instances when LeBron is just standing in the corner or on the wing, out of the play completely as Wade is doing his thing. You never saw that in Cleveland (except when he started doing that in Game 6 vs. Boston and let Mo Williams go to work while he made sure to grab every rebound off missed free throws at the other end).
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Rubio brought down to reality for a moment vs. Kings

It seemed every night I looked at the stat sheet and watched Ricky Rubio highlights this season there was something there that would make me smile. He’d either have a crazy plus-minus, a ton of assists or some dazzling passing highlights.

Last night as Minnesota beat the Sacramento Kings 99-86, Rubio wasn’t as great as he normally is. He had a nice stat line, starting the game and playing 38 minutes he scored 9 points along with 8 assists and 8 rebounds but his plus-minus of minus-three was startling.

How is this possible? He is the next Steve Nash who always led the league in plus-minus! This can’t be right!

Obviously I’ve been watching a little too much of lockout-season NBA and I have my expectations too high. Rubio finally had a “not-so-amazing” night, yet still a near triple-double.
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Who should be taking a shot with the game on the line

NBA fans love to argue about what player is the most clutch or who they would want taking the last shot in a game. It seems most would always say Kobe Bryant including other NBA players and GM’s.

It is amazing how everyone simply agrees with this when the numbers don’t entirely back Kobe up during crunch time. He is the most prolific at taking shots when the game is on the line. He is just not the most efficient in doing so.

For example, the Lakers over Kobe’s career tenure with them have had the most efficient offense in the NBA. The drop off in their efficiency once games enter crunch time is the greatest of any other team.

Chris Paul on the other hand, is by far the most efficient player once the game enters crunch time. And not only as an individual but his team has been the most efficient in the NBA during this time.

Henry Abbott goes into more detail about this.

Paul didn’t become the most efficient by taking fadeaway jump shots over two defenders but by always trying to run offense and find the open man in late-game situations.

But sometimes in the NBA you can’t always find an open shot and you have to take a bad shot. That’s why stats can’t definitely tell you who the most clutch player in the league is. Kobe’s skill and ability to get off a decent shot from anywhere on the court does have its value, it’s just not always the best decision.

Here’s my ranking of players I want taking a clutch shot in the NBA, based on the type of shot or scenario in the game.
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