If you care to subject yourself to another viewing of the final set, here’s the video [go to 2:00 mark]:
Here’s Mike Dunleavy’s explanation of what he designed in the huddle:
We ran a side out-of-bounds play, trying to get the ball into Baron to set up our last play of the game. We didn’t do a good job of setting screens there. We came to the ball with our safety valve on the play, which was good. We had six seconds. We had plenty of time to run our normal safety play, to be able to go and attack the basket. I guess Zach didn’t realize the time, and he turned around and shot that shot.
Preferably, we’d like to get the ball in…get your catch. We’ve got cutters who come off. We’re in attack mode: Get to the rim for a score, or a draw-and-kick for a good shooter for a three.
That last shot [by Randolph] was definitely not designed. We would have the ball in Baron Davis’ hands. We’re going to attack. We’ve got Novak, and Eric Gordon, and Thornton, and Zach — four guys who can make a shot off of Baron’s penetration.
There’s plenty of blame to go around. First and foremost, much of that responsibility lies with the coach. Maybe the set was poorly designed, or maybe Dunleavy didn’t communicate clearly, or maybe it was a failure of KYP. In any case, what transpired was a disaster. However, he’s right on one account: The Clippers’ stack at the foul line [Randolph and Novak] was atrocious, and you can’t fault the coach because professional ballplayers can’t execute a screen that most fundamentally sound varsity high school players could. Watch the play again, and try to discern what Zach Randolph is doing when Baron darts high from the baseline. It’s inexcusable.
Want to know where I fault Dunleavy? He’s the guy who brought in the personnel. He’s the person who fetishized Randolph’s 20-and-10 stat line and determined that this [see below] would translate into wins for a team in desperate need of players who can perform the workaday duties of the professional basketball player — things like setting screens for teammates, defending the pick-and-roll, conditioning, and not assaulting Louis Amundson.
So do I blame Dunleavy the Coach for Zach Randolph’s stupidity on the final set? Not entirely, provided he conveyed his intentions in the huddle with the necessary clarity. I think 85% of the starting bigs in the league get Baron the space he needs on the play to get the ball and work that drive-and-kick. But I do blame Dunleavy the General Manager, for being suckered into accepting Zach Randolph and his three year/$48M contract without considering that this left-handed savant has consistently demonstrated awful judgment as a teammate, defender, and crunch time producer.