“This is borderline embarrassing” –- Ralph Lawler [2nd, 6:25]
Want to watch something truly embarrassing? Take a look at Baron Davis and Marcus Camby defend a high screen by Rashard Lewis at the top of the arc:
- [2nd, 0:40] In the pantheon of NBA power forwards, Lewis isn’t exactly a bruiser. But on this set, you’d think he’s Maurice Lucas. Lewis is defended by Camby to the left of Anthony Johnson, who runs point for Orlando in the absence of Jameer Nelson. Baron Davis plays a few feet off Johnson. Lewis slides between Johnson and Davis, then sets a screen that straddles the circle at the top of the key. Davis puts no real effort to fight through it. In fact, Baron literally wraps his arms around Lewis in a bear hug. Meanwhile, Camby neither switches nor shows. I’m not sure how you’d classify his brand of S/R defense here. He follows Lewis with his arms extended and his back to Johnson. I guess Marcus figures that Davis will run underneath, and that he has to account for Lewis. When Davis gets caught, Marcus never runs out on Johnson, or even looks at him. He just takes off for the glass, hoping to get the rebound. Problem is, when you allow a team to shoot 64% from the floor, there aren’t that many rebounds to be had.
Orlando drains 16 of 26 from beyond the arc, the majority of which are clean looks. They get some of them on lapsed rotations, and some of them in transition — but always on lousy defensive decisions by the Clips:
- [3rd, 5:50] Hedo Turkoglu rushes the ball up the right sideline. He gets a quick screen from Dwight Howard, and uses it well as he drives toward the lane. While this is going on over on the right side, Courtney Lee has spots up in the weak side [left] corner, and Johnson on the left wing. Baron Davis is responsible for Johnson, while Gordon accounts for Lee. To review: Two shooters spread out on the weak side [and for the purposes of this specific half of basketball, Anthony Johnson is a shooter], with corresponding two defenders. So what does Baron do? He collapses on Turkoglu, even though Camby is the help defender, even though Turkoglu’s easiest kick is to the trailing Johnson [Baron's man].Well, the Magic are 36-11 for a reason — they capitalize on dense opponents. Turkoglu makes the easy pass to Johnson. Gordon now has to pick his poison — rotate onto Johnson, which will leave Lee alone, or leave a wide open look for Johnson [who finishes the first half 6-7 on 3PA]. Gordon chooses the former. There is no correct answer, because the play is already blown the instant Davis decides he needs to gamble on Turkoglu 18 feet from the basket. Johnson passes it over to Lee, and the rookie nails the 3PA from the corner.
- [2nd, 10:55] The Clippers have no orientation defensively whatsoever. JJ Redick pushes the ball up the left side against Eric Gordon. Tony Battie, Hedo Turkoglu, and Courtney Lee spread out along the arc [Incidentally, when did Tony Battie add an 18-foot jump shot to his game?]. Redick feeds Howard just off the left block against Randolph, then cuts to the right corner. Instead of following Redick to the weak side, Gordon yells for Ricky Davis to pick up Redick, so that Eric can help on Howard. Davis seems confounded by the request, and he may have cause. Howard isn’t the world’s greatest passing big man, but he’s certainly capable of passing over Eric Gordon to find one of two open shooters on the weak side.That’s exactly what happens: Howard kicks it out of the post to Lee. Now both Gordon and Ricky Davis close on Lee which, naturally, leaves Redick wide open in the corner. Lee dishes the ball over to Redick, who drains the 3PA.Bad decision-making, bad recovery — all of it compounded by bad communication.
About five minutes into the game, there’s a sequence that’s the perfect three-second embodiment of Zach Randolph’s defensive career:
- [1st, 7:13] Randolph guards Howard a couple of steps off the mid-left post. Howard faces up on Zach, pounds a single left-handed dribble into the floor, then takes a stride along the baseline, then goes up for a stuff.That’s it. Howard doesn’t freeze Randolph with a deceptive jab step, or execute some pretty footwork to get himself free. He merely uses Zach Randolph against Zach Randolph.
Until this team demonstrates any wherewithal on the defensive end of the floor, it doesn’t matter how many offensive weapons return to the lineup.