New York had a chance to slip away with an ugly win over Atlanta despite losing Carmelo Anthony to an early ejection last night. The whole game completely stunk and nobody really displayed much verve. Nevertheless, with 15.2 seconds and two timeouts remaining the Knicks set a carousel of screens that got (generously listed at 6’1”) Dennis Schroder switched onto (probably shorted at 7’3”) Kristaps Porzingis. Seems like an advantage, but Knicks. Despite the play resulting in no shot and a stupefying turnover, the play itself was an interesting one. So I decided to break it down.
Here’s the play if you missed it.
Oh and here are replays of the play if you feel like you didn’t get a clear enough picture.
The first thing we see is Derrick Rose setting a solid pick on Paul Millsap. This is actually one of Rose’s best assets these days; he can screen a bigger guy and completely jam him up. I feel like this an underutilized ability for him. Anyhow, this springs Kristaps free so he can wheel around to screen and drag Schroder with him back across the floor.
Millsap can’t just leave Justin Holiday all alone under the hoop, so he cuts off his path then sticks with him as the play moves forward. Kristaps now has a feisty troll doll clinging to his belly as Schroder fronts the post up. Meanwhile Holiday fades to the corner to keep Millsap from relieving Schroder.
Millsap hints at helping but is disciplined enough not to ramble toward Kristaps before he gets the ball. With no clear passing lane and spacing less than ideal, Rose elects not to force feed Porzingis. That’s legit. A good decision. As you can see, there is still 13 seconds on the clock. Plenty of time to wait for something to develop and theoretically make a good decision.
Sadly, about three seconds into the possession (basically as soon as Rose gathered the inbound pass and squared his shoulders) he takes off directly into Schroder’s talons and then was enveloped by the swooping Thabo Sefalosha. Rose coughs up the ball and the Knicks never get a shot. Had he waited only a couple beats, the Knicks’ trio of weak side shooters (say what you will of their ability to connect) would have been set into position and Rose would have nearly 11 seconds to either bounce two or three dribbles higher up the floor to make a clean entry pass to Porzingis, or perhaps run a pick and pop/roll with Porzingis where the ball can now swing if need be. Otherwise you have Porzingis isolated or at the very least less traffic. I’d live with a bad shot by Porzingis over no shot any day. Rose seems to have felt otherwise.
In summation, this is a nice play call from Jeff Hornacek. Derrick Rose was just unable to figure out a way to make the entry pass to the guy with the biggest size mismatch the players on the floor could have possibly generated. And Rose was too impatient to let the play breathe and run a two-man game with Kristaps. It seemed like Rose’s starlit-tunnel vision also precluded him from simply calling for timeout so the team could reestablish themselves if he felt hurried by Sefalosha’s defense. So the former MVP dribbled expressly into Atlanta’s help and turned it over costing the Knicks a very winnable game. Oh well, another one down the drain.