All basketball fans have been heartened over the news over the last 6 months or so that Tex Winter is doing so much better. Since he is doing better and presumeably watching Phil Jackson’s team, we can guess that Phil and Tex have spoken recently about the problems Phoenix’s zone defense has posed to Tex’s beloved triple post offense.
Phil: Tex, I’m returning your call. I presume you want to talk about our execution – or lack thereof against Phoenix’s girly zone defense.
Tex: Phil, actually I think the triangle is being run well. Guys are getting some penetration via post passes, splitting the top of the zone on occasion and the shots we are getting are usually wide-open.
Phil: Yeah, our shots are wide open…
Tex: But the shots we are getting are exactly what Phoenix wants to give us.
Phil: Your triangle teaches the players to take the first open shot available. In fact, we criticize our players when they pass up wide open shots.
Tex: Hey, don’t call it my offense! By now, Mr. Hall of Fame, the offense is as much a part of your legacy as it is mine.
Tex: Anyway, Phoenix isn’t really playing a traditional zone trying to cover all attack zones on the court. I mean, a priority of most zone defenses is to stop the corner 3, the most devastatingly effective shot in the NBA. The girly zone actually is begging for our guys to take the corner 3.
Phil: Not all our guys, just Artest and Odom
Tex: And Farmar, Brown, even Kobe and Fisher. They are desperate not to give up layups to Pau. Yeah, that Phoenix defense is like a siren, a temptress that lets you nuzzle her navel all night long but…
Phil: But won’t let you go any lower… And because in the triangle, we have taught our guys to take the open shot…
Tex: Artest shoots the open 3 whether early in the shot clock or late.
Phil: The other problem Tex, is that we are just not drawing any fouls.
Tex: Yeah, foul shots would slow the game, stop their transition offense, give Kobe a rest, and…
Phil: Instead, the long 3’s are creating long rebounds and fueling their transition game. I’m not sure what to do ….
Tex: You have to disregard the zone.
Phil: What do you mean?
Tex: And forget about the triangle
Phil: What? What are you saying, forget the triangle and forget the zone. Tex, I thought you were feeling better.
Tex: You look at the Phoenix’s zone and see a 2-3 zone with defenders at each attack zone.
Phil: Yeah, that is a zone… I don’t know what you are getting at.
Tex: Instead, just look at the tape.
Tex: After the first triangle set-up pass and the ball is in Fisher’s hands on the right wing, what do you see?
Phil: (Stops the tape). I see the zone setting up…
Tex: No , what do you SEE?
Phil: What do you mean?
Tex: WHO do you see
Phil: I see Nash…
Tex: Stop, who is behind Nash.
Tex: Who is in front of Nash?… Forget this. I’m faxing over a diagram for you to look at…. Did you get it?
Phil: Kobe… aha…. I get it.
Tex: It is obvious isn’t it?
Tex: In a situation with 10 equal players, the triangle gives the offense the advantage.
Phil: (a delighted glee escapes from his lips)
Tex: But you don’t have 10 equal players. Swing the ball quickly to Kobe. Now you have Kobe Bryant, the best one-on-one player in the world against the worst one-on-one defender in the league. Kobe will get past Nash easily or draw a foul. After he gets past Nash…
Phil: Amare has to cover..
Tex: The most defensively challenged PF in the game…Kobe scores or draws a foul.
Phil: If Lopez comes over to help..
Tex: Dunk for Pau.
Phil: You know if they were playing man and put Nash on Kobe, I’d go to him every single possession and why am I not exploiting this match up just because they are playing zone.
Tex: This strategy also solves your other problem.
Phil: What is that?
Tex: Other than Kobe and Pau, your players are dumb
Phil: Hey, they are your players too.
Tex: Maybe I’m not being kind. What I mean is, instead of trying to be smart, run the triangle and take open shots…
Phil: As you taught them to…
Tex: All the players that can drive to the basket, Odom and Artest, should just drive on Nash and Stoudemire. or Dragic, Barbosa… with aggression. And not try to over think how the triangle functions against the zone.
Phil: They will get some charging calls against them, Nash is a world-class flopper.
Tex: So what, a few charging calls. But at least you’ll be initiating the contact and knocking Nash over a few times will wear him out and will help your defense by the 4th quarter. Tell your guys…
Phil: Attack Nash
Tex: Or Dragic or Barbosa
Phil: And Stoudemire to get penetration. Which will result in layups, dunks or fouls.
Tex: And if, and only if, all else fails take the open 3 late in the shot clock. And never early in the shot clock because that open corner 3 will always be there.
Phil: I knew I should have adopted the Princeton offense…
Tex: (Hangs up)
a delighted glee escapes from my lips!
lol – hilarious:) The schemeing actually makes sense. The problem is that the Suns have hybirded the zone a little – they actually man up a little on kobe as much as possible and make him work hard to get the ball and pressure a bit more when he does have it. He did go off in 2/3qs but was defended alright – he just hit hard shots. The prob is – if his legs go from all the heavy lifting in the 4th q or in game 6-7 – who on the lakers will step up to carry the load and hit late shot clock/lategame outside jumpers and be the hero – especially if the Suns continue to make the paint untenable for Pau? (I’m afraid you gotta consider Bynum an afterthought for this series – he’s too slow to play the defense necessary for the lakers to close out the series in crunch time, he’s been getting his points etc.. early in the game – he can’t cover out the line and he gets dstroyed by dragic/barbosa on the pnrs due to reduced mobility). I wonder too how if the laker bench (aside from Odom) will play well within their limitations and make the smart play – or get nervous and blow up by trying to outshine what the Suns bench did on Tues and trying too hard
Lakers have to force more turnovers too – suns only had 6-7 in gm 4 and those extra possessions can be daggers
So how do we get a copy of this to Phil in time for the game?
great post! i agree with mimsy! maybe someone give to jeannie!
MICHAEL ZARABI aka ZERB says
AND WHY WASNT THIS BROUGHT UP BEFORE GAME 4?
i wonder how a kobe-tex conversation would go…
kobe + tex= “my teammates get one q to prove they’re not gonna F’ this up – otherwise, give me the goddamn ball and play some defense!”
It makes sense until you realize that our player are all taught to continue to move in triangle. It would seem counter-intuitive for them to be stationary and let Kobe do all the work. Actually, they are used to do doing this, too. It’s just that they weren’t encouraged.
I think as you pointed out Fisher should spot up in the corner, with Artest guarding the other wing, and Odom on the baseline to crash the board. Then Kobe and Pau needs to take turn getting to the foul-line extended danger zone. They’ll make smart decisions almost 80-90% of the time.
The problem is that when we have Farmar and/or Brown in the game, they need to play the role of Fisher and Artest, but instead they STILL try to be the playmakers thus causing turnovers and/or putting up terrible shots.
BTW, how sweet would it be for the city of Boston to blow two 3-0 lead in the same year! I know that we have our own concerns, but if the Celtics lose game 6, it would just be too funny to watch the aftermath of the biggest collapse in NBA history.
Hillary Ocholla says
This is one enjoyable read 😀
Billy Masterson says
Hey for a “girly” zone defense it sure has worked wonders, huh?
Just think – if teams were allowed to play true zones (no def 3 sec called) then teams would actually have to have 5 “complete” basketball players on their teams and actually have people who could move, pass, shoot and make good decisions – a lot of lakers seem to be defective in one or two of those areas at times. the girly zone defense is a garbage comment too – if you’re a good team, thats well coached any defence can be beaten, otherwise you’ve just been exposed
Are you implying that being “girly” somehow is the same as being weak, powerless, and easy to push around? Step carefully around that landmine… 😀
#12 and #13. Billy Masterson and Jerke,
It was Gentry that used the term girly to describe the zone. Bill Bridges just repeated what the Suns’ coach said:
“I said if we have to play our ‘girly zone,’ we will,” Gentry said, chuckling.
I unerstand it was in jest, but I believe Bill Bridges is using it in the same manner. We can all see the zone’s been effective.
@Mimsy (in swedish)
Där ser man! Umeå är en trevlig stad, har en syster som läser däruppe så jag har hälsat på några gånger.. fastnade du för Lakers när du kom till USA eller har du följt dem sen tidigare? Kanske ska fortsätta konversera på engelska i fortsättningen.. vet inte hur populärt det är med svenska här i längden =)
My apologies as well for writing in swedish, altough it’s all kind words.
And kudos to Bill Bridges for a brilliant and entertaining post!
Great post! Unfortunately, all this x’s and o’s talk might be for naught.
Lead Ref Tonight:
The same Benett Salvatore who Phil publically criticized just two months ago.
The same Benett Salvatore who called a foul on Hedu Turkoglu’s out of control drive in the closing seconds that gave Toronto the win earlier this season.
The same Benett Salvatore who was lead official in Game 4 of the 2009 Finals.
This does not bode well.
lol – i realize the context it was written. It’s just funny how dismissive/derisive other analysts (or even Kobe) are of zone defence and it’s concepts. Teams need to gameplan according to their strenghts/weaknesses and zone defence helps the suns by making their team defence/rebounding more effective as a whole than their individual defenders.
No it isn’t great defence and still gives up a tonne of points – but it only needs to give the lakers pause enough to make a couple miscues so as to allow the suns to make the offensive bursts that give them the separation.
I’m sure even phil can appreciate the irony in the fact that a “girly zone” has at a minimum distracted his players from at least playing competent defence and at worst may cost them a trip to the finals.
T. Rogers says
If the Lakers take care of business and actually defend they will be fine. I don’t see the Suns getting 20 extra free throws at Staples. That alone makes a huge difference. Even in the first two games I was a bit uneasy about the Suns shooting 50% from the floor. If LA could get them down to in low 40’s tonight they walk out with the W no matter how the whistles blow.
Good point, let’s switch languages. 🙂
I moved over here to get married, and when I noticed my husband was watching every Laker game he could find, and constantly talking about them, I decided to watch a game with him, to try and understand what was so special about this team that he obviously cared a lot about. The NHL had a league-wide lock-out that season anyway, so the hockey games I had been looking forward to were unavailable and I was suffering from painful sports withdrawal.
So we started watching Laker games together, and though it took a while (about a season or so) he can now smugly claim that he converted me to Laker fandom (with a little help from the beautiful and absolutely brilliant basketball skills of a certain arrogant shooting guard).
So to answer your question, I knew next to nothing about either basketball or the Lakers before I moved over to the US. It all happened after the move. 🙂
Bah, no worries. We will simply make the opposing center fall on him, that seemed to work really well for the Magic.
world class post!
As one “rouge” ref once said… “the NBA has senior officials it will put on games when they need a certain outcome.” Salvatore is most likely here to help the Lakers… not hurt the Lakers. The league loses hundreds of millions on sweeps (especially when its a WCF Lakers series). Its not surprising the Suns shot twice as many FT’s the last two games than the Lakers. This is the WCF, people are watching and ratings are more important than people realize. I have a hunch if the Lakers are behind a little or being outplayed they will shoot twice as many ft’s than the Suns tonight. I wouldn’t be too worried. As my favorite gambling buddy once said “You can see in the first 4 minutes of the first quarter if the league wants to keep a bad team in the game or in the series. But only once (Miami in Finals) have they not readjusted so the better team wins.”
Yeah, the Lakers blah blah need to blah attack the zone blah blah defend better blah blah blah blah.
I don’t know, but I’m starting to suspect that so-called “home-court” advantage has a little bit less to do with the crowd, familiar settings, home-rest, energy in the building, etc., and maybe more than a little bit to do with the foul selections of the refs.
PHX: FTM-A 37-42
LAL: FTM-A 16-20
PHX: FTM-A 22-32
LAL: FTM-A 7-13
The NBA: where nothing happens, now move along, nothing to see here.
Off topic: Did you know that Babel Fish doesn’t have a Swedish translator? What if I needed to call Ikea, like stat, for help with my new African Teak Lamp…
lil' pau says
this eased my nerves for 2 minutes, something nothing else has done. thank you.
I didn’t know that. But I know that Google does. 🙂
Game 5 preview and chat is up.
Joel B. says
This post was great, I was following along and light bulb appeared as if I was talking to tex myself.
Craig W. says
Boy this conspiracy stuff really has to get convoluted to make everything work out as planned.
The problem with conspiracies is that it is too easy to have a leak somewhere.
I can go with assigning refs based on their historical biases, but that is about as far as I could go in influencing the outcomes of games.
Role players will shoot better at home and the crowd will help the home team be more aggressive. That’s plenty of influence right there. There isn’t much more needed.
Still laughing, excellent post! I should have adopted the Princeton Offense: Click! Too, funny.
Make no doubt this Phoenix Suns zone is girlie, its weak which is befuddling as to why the Lakers have not taken advantage of it. The Triangle works against zone and man to man defenses.
The fact that this is a match up zone should work all the better for an NBA team because there’s an overload ball side, and on the weak side the defense must turn their head to see the ball. The weak side corner man could cut/aggressively to the hole for a lob pass or the guy (Kobe) at the top of the weakside should dive hard into the heart of the defense for a pass which he could either take the short jumper or dish to the two corners who should be going to the hole for a dunk, layup or rebound.
The Lakers will out rebound the Suns by 10 tonight! Lakers win!