With seven seconds remaining and the New York Knicks trailing by one, New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson called a timeout to set up for a game-winning shot to knock off the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Garden.
That made sense, but the seven seconds that followed did not.
After Smith clanged the potential game winner off of the back iron the general feeling was on of befuddlement, as if to say: “That’s the best shot you could get coming out of a timeout?”
So who’s to blame here? Was the problem with the design of the play or the execution?
Actually a little of both.
First of all, Mike Woodson’s play call was awful.
Of course you are going to go to J.R. Smith in that situation, but you have to get him the ball in space, not tied up near the corner where Smith doesn’t have any options.
If that was going to be the design, the Knicks would have been better off not calling a timeout and instead getting Smith the ball in transition with a chance to do something in space.
Raymond Felton said to ESPN’s Ian Begley that Smith was option No. 1 on the play and he was the second option. Apparently, Amar’e Stoudemire was the third option.
Woodson on the other hand seemed to have a problem with the execution, telling Begley:
“We got the movement, but it was so sluggish the way we got into it. We didn’t fire off of it like we should have. I was trying to get guys to go in a different direction. The play was for J.R. But once he actually caught it, he looked up at the clock and when he caught it and faced he could have just gone with it because everybody was plugged into their guys. He could have ripped through it and went to the rim. But he didn’t and settled for the jump shot.”
He does have points because the execution was definitely flawed.
When Smith catches the ball, he absolutely cannot turn his back to the rim for three seconds. The moment he did that, the game was over.
Smith has to get moving towards the basket to either create a better look for himself or for one of his teammates. That obviously did not happen.
Veteran teams and coaches aren’t supposed to panic with the game on the line, but that is exactly what happened Thursday night as the failure to execute in the final seven seconds wasted a great team effort.
It’s not the first time though.
Whether it is Carmelo Anthony or Smith getting the ball with the Knicks attempting to tie or take a lead in the final seconds of games, the Knicks rarely ever get a good look coming out of a timeout. Smith has hit a pair of buzzer beaters to win games, but those were on him, as they had very little to do with play design.
It’s true that with guys like ‘Melo and Smith, there is going to be a lot of isolation involved at the end of games, but it is the coaches job to put his team in the best position to win games and that is something that hasn’t happened.
Thursday night against the Thunder was just another example.
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