It goes without saying that no team wants to leave a great player like Bryant wide open, but when there’s 10.8 seconds left in a tie game and everyone in the gym knows the ball is probably going to Bryant and he still gets that free, well, it bears investigating.
The moral of this story: good job, Mike Brown.
Getting your best player a great shot with the game on the line is very Gregg Popovich. The play the Lakers run is a simple box set that uses the threat of Kobe coming free for a baseline jumper to set up a misdirection screen for Kobe, and a killer screen-the-screener action for Ramon Sessions who ends up wide open for a layup (it turns out Matt Barnes was almost as focused on Kobe as the Nets were).
The set up
Pau Gasol and Troy Murphy stand at the elbows, Ramon Session and Kobe Bryant on the block. Kobe begins by moving toward the right corner off of a Ramon Sessions “screen,” that’s really just there to make Deron Williams hedge on Bryant’s movement.
Here we can see Deron Williams has hedged on Bryant to prevent him from getting a catch-and-shoot opportunity on the baseline. Bryant’s defender, Gerald Wallace, is attached to Kobe and fighting through the screen.
Murphy has pushed his way down into the middle of the paint.
Here comes Pau Gasol, with the screen of a lifetime…
Notice that here the Lakers are still in a “box” look of sorts. From here, the two guards are both going to come off of screens from their big men counterparts to their left.
The cross screens
Pau Gasol absolutely swallows up Gerald Wallace on his back screen, and by the time Deron Williams realizes that Sessions’s screen was a decoy, he’s in terrible position to get through Troy Murphy’s cross screen. Both Lakers guards are wide, wide open. It’s an elegant play with a phenomenal result.
Here’s the video:
(I recommend watching twice. First focusing on Kobe/Gasol, then Sessions/Murphy)