The entire NBA is abuzz over the play the New York Knicks ran in the final seconds of their 90-87 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Ever modest, head coach Kurt Rambis was quick to give credit to his players for their wonderful execution:
"I'm not going to take credit for that in any way, shape or form." Knicks coach Kurt Rambis on Jose Calderon's game-winner vs. Lakers— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) March 14, 2016
Oh Kurt, stop kidding around! This play had all the telltale signs of a smart, precise game plan:
Let's break down the various elements which made this so effective.
1. Gotta have Sasha Vujacic out there
Our man Sasha has hit 33.5 percent of his field goal attempts this season -- of the 314 players to have attempted at least 150 field goals this season, he ranks 312th. That can mean only one thing ... he's due, baby!
2. Toss the ball to Robin Lopez near the halfcourt line, nearly commit over-and-back violation
Any time you get a chance to fling the ball to RoLo that far in the backcourt, you gotta do it. He's far more creative off the dribble than, say, Roy Hibbert.
Lopez rewards this faith by perfectly executing the "Am I gonna step across the halfcourt line?" deke. You know how NFL ball carriers sometimes pretend like they're going out of bounds late in the game, only to cut back and gain a few more yards? Same principle.
3. Lopez pulls off a flawless Last Crusade move
Whether you're dribbling a basketball or questing for the Holy Grail, the key is to drop down almost to one knee before proceeding.
4. Textbook spacing
As Calderon is about to take the shot, Arron Afflalo is standing right next to him -- possibly to offer moral support, I guess -- while Carmelo Anthony was in the midst of heading out to sea.
When a play is executed this well, the game-winner feels almost routine. Check out Calderon's expression after he hit the shot:
He has the look of someone who just threw a soiled diaper into his neighbor's trash can. That, my friends, is called professionalism.
The Knicks are really building something special here, breaking new boundaries of just how many times a team can almost turn the ball over before getting off a shot. I'm excited to see what else they have cooking in the lab.