The Lakers have played the Phoenix Suns twice in the last five days to varying results. During their win in the Staples Center, there was one play that stood out to me and others on twitter. Andrew Bynum caught the ball at the pinch post and fed a cutting Troy Murphy, who finished the play and got fouled. When I watched it live, it was merely just a great pass from Bynum to Murphy, but after a re-watch, I realized that it was a great play drawn up by the Lakers coaching staff.
The Play starts out with a high screen and roll between Troy Murphy and Steve Blake. Matt Barnes and Andrew Goudelock are straddling the perimeter, creating space in the middle of the floor. As you’ll see, Murphy is coming up from the right side of the court, as Andrew Bynum starts fighting for position with Robin Lopez.
Instead of setting the screen from the direction Murphy was coming from, he slips the screen and Blake begins to drive toward Bynum. The slipped screen confuses Sebastian Telfair and Hakim Warrick — just for a split second — but long enough to free Troy Murphy. Warrick starts to show, when he doesn’t actually need to, and Telfair naturally tries to fight through a screen that isn’t there. With both eyes sets of eyes on Blake, Murphy rolls to the basket. During Murphy’s cut, Bynum begins to open up to receive a pass from Blake.
Steve Blake gets the ball to Bynum, who sees a wide open Troy Murphy cutting down a lane with no defenders in front of him. Hakim Warrick wasn’t quick enough to realize that he made a defensive lapse and found himself about a yard behind the cutting Murphy as the pass was being made. The design of this play was crucial for Murphy being wide open. With Barnes and Goudelock holding their respective defenders near the three point line and Bynum bringing the center out of the paint to the pinch post, there wasn’t anyone around to rotate fast enough by the time the defense realized that Murphy was getting the ball.
The result was Bynum hitting Murphy in stride with a beautiful bounce pass that led to a layup and a foul. Watch the play in real time below.