From Master of Panic to Master of Panacea

Master of Panaceapanacea [pan-a-see-a]

Noun a remedy for all diseases or problems [Greek pan- all + akes remedy]

There is a lot of talk about Courtney Lee missing that final shot in regulation of game 2 of the 2009 NBA Finals, but look at that shot in context:

(1) Courtney Lee had just missed a wide open layup less than 12 seconds earlier, which is how the Lakers ended up with the ball and 9.1 seconds left in regulation to begin with. Courtney Lee took advantage of a screen by Rashard Lewis to shed off Kobe Bryant and Lee drove right to rim. Pau Gasol rotated hard to stop Lee, but lost his balance and fell to the floor, giving Lee an open layup which he shot too hard and it bounced off the back of the rim.

Had Courtney Lee made that first layup, the Magic would likely have won.

(2) Upon rebounding Lee’s miss, the Lakers called time out and opted to bring the ball up the length of the court to assure they could get the ball in without burning another time out. Lamar Odom got the in bounds pass to Pau Gasol, then cut hard to Pau and took the pass back, crossed the time line and passed off to Kobe Bryant.

Master of Panacea(3) You can talk about Hedo Turkoglu‘s great defense if you want when he blocked Kobe’s shot attempt, but it is awfully easy to come up with a defensive play when you surround the ball handler 4 on 1. And looking at the slow motion replays, it is obvious that had Turkoglu not blocked Kobe’s shot, Dwight Howard would have.

Master of PanaceaIt was just a dumb decision by Kobe.

Kobe literally attempted that shot against 4 Magic defenders, including the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, and did not even look to any of his 3 totally wide open teammates to make that last shot. Literally, the ONLY Orlando Magic player to not swarm Bryant was Courtney Lee, who fronted Gasol right at the rim.

I’m hoping that this boneheaded decision is why Kobe was so mad when he went to the bench at the end of regulation, but I have my doubts.

What happened next is a credit to both Hedo Turkoglu and Stan Van Gundy, especially Van Gundy, who showed NO signs of panic this game.

Orlando had the ball, 0.6 seconds to do something with it, and a ton of time outs left.

Master of PanaceaWatch Turkoglu carefully, he took the ball from the ref, pinned it between his ARM and his left side, and just watched his teammates run and the defense react, then called for another time out.

Clearly Turkoglu NEVER intended to inbounds the ball on that first attempt; if he did, he must have thought his left butt cheek was going to make the pass for him because, unlike Turkoglu’s next inbounds attempt where he held the ball with both hands above his head, Turkoglu never even tried to take the ball from his hip.

That first “inbounds play” was all about watching how the Laker defense would play the Orlando Magic from that position on the court.

When that final play in regulation unfolded, I was so amazed that I paused it and yelled for the wife and kids to come check it out. I played it again and again pointing out how brilliant it was.

Van Gundy ran the play for a rookie, and not just any rookie, but a rookie who had only attempted 3 shots all game, who had only made one shot all game… and was being guarded by perennial first team all defense member Kobe Bryant!

That is the LAST thing I thought the Magic would do, and clearly it was the last thing the Lakers thought they would do either, because it worked to near perfection.

I perfect pick shed Kobe from Lee 16 feet away from the basket. Pau Gasol made a correct read and rotated hard to pick up Lee, and that defensive effort is probably what saved the game for the Lakers… it forced Lee to shoot the lay up high enough to clear Gasol, making it too high to go in.

Had Pau Gasol not made that effort and rotated to Courney Lee as the ball was still in the air, the layup simply would have been too simple to miss.

Master of panaceaIf you are tempted to whine that Gasol’s contact with the rim on the shot was goal tending, it wasn’t and here is a link to the NBA rule book so you can check for yourself. Now Dwight Howard coming up through the hoop to block Gasol’s dunk in the second quarter… THAT was goal tending! It is ASTONISHING the refs didn’t make that call, but that’s a tangent.

After the game, Courtney Lee confirmed that the play was drawn up for him all along.

Honestly, it was just a brilliant play,” said Kobe Bryant after the game with genuine admiration in his voice. “It was just a very, very smart play that he drew up. He knew my eye was more on the shooters coming up, and it was just a hell of a play by a hell of a coach.”

I couldn’t agree more, and it is high time we came up with a better nick name for Stan Van Gundy. Suggetions?

  1. J the DrafterJ the Drafter08-25-2009

    It was probably a dunk attempt, but Kobe pulled on Lee’s arm.

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