Fast Break Thoughts (Literally)

Phillip Barnett —  April 22, 2010

For those of you who have been reading this site for a while, you’ve see the frequent post titled “Fast Break Thoughts,” a segment that Darius usually utilizes to get some random thoughts about the Lakers and other NBA related topics out for you guys to read. Today, however, I’m going to take a more literal sense out of the title, and demonstrate how the Lakers are losing points by not successfully completing fast breaks.

This is something that has bothered me all season and something that has continued into the post season. Below I have four examples of four terribly run fastbreaks with mistakes made by four different guards: Kobe, Fish, Brown and Farmar.

1. Kobe Bryant
This first fast break will begin a trend that you will see throughout all four examples. It begins with a Derek Fisher steal, who immediately advances the ball to Kobe with only Kevin Durant between Kobe/Fisher and the basket. This first picture shows how far away from the basket is when Derek Fisher makes the first pass. Ideally, you’d like to see the ball go right back to Fish to keep the single defender guessing, but as I already stated, this is the beginning of a trend that we’ll see throughout the post. Kobe is going to hold the ball too long, letting Durant only guard one instead of two.


This second picture shows the very last second you want to hold the ball in this situation, but as you can see, Kobe isn’t even in a position to make the pass. He has his eyes on Fish, so you know that he’s going to make that pass, making the recovery for Westbook easier. Kobe’s pass ends up off mark, because he waited long enough for Durant’s long arms to have an affect on his passing lane. Westbrook recovers with his speed, forcing Fish to pump fake, allowing the rest of the Thunder to get back, alter the shot and get the defensive rebound (video of this fast break immediately follows the picture).

2. Jordan Farmar
On this play, Lamar Odom comes up with a steal and makes a sloppy outlet pass to Jordan Farmar who catches the ball at the free throw line. The picture below shows Kobe ahead of him but neglects to show a Thabo Sefolosha who is already back on defense. Jordan Farmar needs to give this ball up early and fly down the wing on the opposite side and let someone else fill middle. This, of course, does not happen.


This picture shows that Sefolosha has committed to not letting Kobe get the ball, forcing Farmar to score or make a decision — pretty much a brilliant play by Sefolosha.

Here we see that Farmar has picked up his dribble at the free throw line at full speed. He needs to shoot or pass the ball at that point (this would have been a perfect time to throw a lob as Kobe has a great angle on the basket and can catch passes easier than coming from other angles). Instead, he continues his drive, gets caught in the air with Sefolosha all over him and is forced to give the ball up to Kobe (finally), but only now all of the Thunder defenders are back on defense.

Here we see Kobe with the ball, with four Thunder defenders within three feet of him and his shot ends up getting blocked (again, video following the picture).

3. Derek Fisher
This break begins with Artest knocking the ball out of Durant’s hands and making a brilliant save on the side line. Fish picks up the ball and immediately takes off on the break. I love this camera angle for this play only. We see Fish look at Kobe at the very last moment moment he should have passed it, but the picture below shows how early he should have passed. This time Westbrook hasn’t committed to any one yet, his back is turned to Kobe, so a pass here would have kept him guessing  — but continuing with our theme, Fish holds the ball too long.


Here we see Fish throwing a lob to a Kobe who had began to slow down. Kobe makes an adjustment just to go up and get the pass, but has to come down with it, giving the rest of the Thunder defender time to recover. Their length bothers him and he misses another close one (video after the picture).

4. Shannon Brown
On this final break, we see it begin by Artest poking another ball away from Durant. This time Brown picks  up the ball and streaks down the right sideline. This first picture shows that Gasol and Kobe had filled the lanes beautifully and were not even being looked at by Westbrook or Collison. Albeit difficult, a pass here to either the trailing Gasol or a pass near the rim to Kobe would have worked beautifully, but…


Brown holds the ball all the way and gets fouled. I have less of a problem with this one because he got the two points, but if you watch Brown’s eyes from the second angle, you see that he’s not even looking to make the right play. His head is forward the whole way, sometimes looking down, completely unaware of what his options are — this is what I have a problem with. Not knowing your surroundings is what creates turnovers, and we saw far too many of those in Game 2 (video following picture).

Hopefully, these guys can put together some decent enough fast breaks during Game 3 to get some easy points, which they’re definitely going to need on the road. I have some links that I want to share, and will a little later if work allows it. If not, share them amongst yourselves if you have any in the comment box.


Phillip Barnett