This was supposed to be a 2-play post made right after the Lakers game but NBA Playbook stole my thunder by reviewing the Kobe game-winner. Kobe’s heroics might’ve stolen the show that night but another, seemingly innocuous play caught my eye. Here’s a defensive possession from the first half where it’s evident what the Lakers are about to do, but only one Raptor anticipates the action while the one that was supposed to see it coming, didn’t move an inch.
Pau Gasol is setting a screen on DeMar DeRozan who has issues dealing with stronger, physical players on the perimeter. In this case, Gasol’s screen is about to clear him out completely and since a great player like Kobe Bryant has the ball, Bosh will be forced to pay attention to him so a drive down the middle can be prevented. Turkoglu is guarding Artest, Jack is checking Fisher and Bargnani is defending Bynum (not pictured). In fact, Bargnani’s man is so far away from the action that he could easily be the one helping DeRozan instead of Bosh who is about to be burned by a Gasol roll and a nifty Kobe bounce-pass.
Bosh’s hedge didn’t work and Kobe has split the Bosh/DeRozan double with a sweet bounce pass to Gasol whose only hurdle getting to the rim is Hedo Turkoglu, who has been anticipating the action all along. Unfortunately for the Raptors, he’s not a great help defender and shouldn’t be asked to make such a long rotation. He’s also guarding Ron Artest who is a 38% 3-point shooter and shouldn’t be given a clean look. Jarrett Jack should also not be leaving his man Fisher who is a 36% 3-point shooter. The man in position to help here is Andrea Bargnani whose man Andrew Bynum is completely out of the play at this point. Bargnani can afford to help on Gasol without fear of Bynum burning him. Unlike Turkoglu or Jack, Bargnani also possesses the size to deal with Gasol at the rim if it ever gets that far. Also unlike Turkoglu or Jack, notice that Bargnani is not looking at the ball and not concerned with the help situation that is about to develop. You could also argue that Bargnani has no business being that far away from the rim since Bynum is not a perimeter threat.
To Turkoglu’s credit, he has made a good rotation to meet Gasol at the rim, however it doesn’t matter as this is a situation which which is likely to result in 1) a personal foul on Turkoglu 2) an And1 or 3) a layup. There is no way Turkoglu can block this shot. There is a possibility that he could’ve picked up a charge if he had rotated beyond the circle but the action developed too fast for that to happen and he had to cover a lot of distance. Jack might’ve had a better chance to pick up a charge (much like he did against New York on the game-winning sequence) but he’s concerned with Fisher’s shooting ability. The guilty party here is Bargnani who had every opportunity to help but didn’t.
Just some of the questions to think about: Is Triano’s defensive plan that Turkoglu makes that rotation? Did DeRozan do enough to fight through the pick? Should Bosh have been more aware of the situation and dropped back and dealt with Gasol, leaving Kobe-coverage to someone else? Did Turkoglu fail at his job or were we asking too much of him? Would playing the 2-3 zone been a better option for us?