Eight Mistakes In The Final 15 Seconds of the Lakers Overtime Win | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Eight Mistakes In The Final 15 Seconds of the Lakers Overtime Win

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Updated: October 26, 2017

The Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Lakers played a sloppy, mistake-filled basketball game at the Staples Center on Wednesday night. In fact, there were so many mistakes they had to play an extra five minutes of overtime just to fit them all in.

In the interest of time — the game ended around 1:30AM, after all — let’s focus solely on the eight biggest mistakes (by the Wizards, the Lakers and the refs) in the final 15 seconds of overtime that led to Los Angeles’ 102-99 victory.

1. Scott Brooks Calls A Timeout

With 19 seconds remaining in overtime and the Lakers leading 100-99, Kyle Kuzma missed a corner three-pointer. Bradley Beal grabbed the rebound and handed it to Wall, who pushed the ball up court. At that moment, four of the Lakers players were still in the back-court. Nevertheless, Scott Brooks instinctively walked on the court and called a timeout.

This was the wrong move. Wall is one of the best point guards in transition. The Lakers defense was not set and you have to trust your franchise point guard to create a good look in that situation. There’s more than a decent chance Wall would have raced up court and found a cutting teammate for an easy basket.

On top of that, Washington’s half-court offense had been a disjointed, one-on-one, hero-ball mess for the previous ten-plus minutes of the game. Why stop a transition opportunity to draw up a half-court play?

2. Refs Should Not Have Allowed Washington To Advance the Ball

Before Brooks called the timeout, Beal had already grabbed the rebound, passed to Wall, and Wall took at least one dribble. Accordingly, Washington should have been forced to inbound the ball in the back-court. While the Wizards may have caught a lucky break, the refs certainly paid them back.

3. Refs Missed a Shooting Foul on Julius Randle

After Brooks’ timeout, Kelly Oubre in-bounded the ball to Wall at the three-point line as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope over-pursued. With a clear path to the rim, Wall drove straight into Julius Randle’s chest and created substantial contact but there was no call.

The ref initially gave the ball to Washington but a replay review clearly showed Wall touched it last. As the play was shown multiple times on the ESPN broadcast, Mark Jackson noted that the refs need to admit they made a mistake. Both Kara Lawson and Steve Buckhantz made the same observation that a foul should have been called on the NBCSports Washington feed. In any event, the Lakers received possession with 11.5 seconds left in overtime and one point lead.

4. Jodie Meeks Did Not Switch on Defense

With Los Angeles inbounding the ball under their basket with a one point lead and 11.5 seconds remaining, Washington’s defensive game plan should have been clear: switch all picks, try for a quick steal, then foul. Jodie Meeks did not get the memo.

Meeks started the play guarding Caldwell-Pope with Wall on Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma set a pick on Meeks so Wall correctly switched onto Meeks’ man (Caldwell-Pope). However, instead of switching onto Kuzma, Meeks kept chasing Caldwell-Pope, which left Kuzma wide open for the inbounds pass. To make matters worse, Meeks compounded this fundamental mistake with an even more fundamental one.

5. Jodie Meeks Did Not Try to Foul Kyle Kuzma

If you watch closely, when Meeks finally catches up to Kuzma, he does not make an aggressive attempt to foul. In fact, he makes no attempt at all. Meeks runs up to Kuzma and sort of hesitates. He doesn’t foul or contest the pass. These two mistakes — failing to switch and failing to foul — started the chain reaction that allowed Los Angeles to break the press and run out the clock for the – WAIT A MINUTE – that’s Julius Randle’s music.

6. Randle Gave Washington One Last Chance By Dunking the Ball

After the Lakers broke Washington’s full-court press, Randle caught the ball under the basket with 5.7 seconds remaining and no Wizards player below the free throw line. He could have run out several of the remaining seconds – if not all of them – by dribbling toward the Wizards’ bench. Instead, he dunked, leaving Washington a very manageable three point deficit with 4.7 seconds remaining.

As Randle walked back to the bench to celebrate, it looked like Caldwell-Pope told Randle the error of his clock-killing ways because Randle looked up at the scoreboard and said, “Oh, Sh*t.”

In fairness to Randle, Kelly Oubre was closing in fast from the free throw line and Randle may have made an executive decision to take the sure two points over a couple uncertain free throws. However, judging by his reaction to Caldwell-Pope, it does not appear Randle contemplated those options during the 1.2 seconds that he had the ball.

7. Scott Brooks’ Play Call Put the Wizards in a Tough Spot

With only 4.5 seconds remaining and no timeouts, Washington’s only option was attempting a game-tying three-point shot. Knowing this, Brooks drew up a play to inbound the ball to Wall as he was running away from the basket. This was not good.

The primary option after Wall caught the inbounds appeared to be Beal curling off a Mike Scott screen at the three-point elbow, but Lonzo Ball blocked the passing lane. This is where inbounding the ball to a player running toward mid-court hurts you. With the primary option off the table, there were only three seconds remaining by the time Wall could square up to the basket 30 feet from the rim.

Many on Twitter have noted that Beal was open once he floated to the corner – even John Wall pointed to Beal immediately after the play as if to say “my bad” – but there were only two seconds remaining when Beal broke free and a skip pass at that point would have been risky.

However, there was a very promising option on the opposite side of the court. Caldwell-Pope, who was covering Jodie Meeks, took his eye off his man for a split second. Oubre jumped in and set a great pick on Caldwell-Pope and Meeks burst free to Wall’s left. With Meeks’ patented quick release, there was plenty of time for him to get off an uncontested shot to force double-overtime.

But this gets back to the original problem with the play call. Inbounding the ball to a player running toward mid-court wasted too much time and put Wall in a difficult spot. He was forced to create for himself or try to manufacture a perfectly timed shot for Meeks.

It’s fine to use Wall as a safety valve if Oubre is having difficulty getting the ball in bounds. In that instance, Wall should do whatever he can to create a clear passing lane for Oubre. However, on this particular play, Oubre’s pass to Wall was not an act of desperation. Wall was the first – and seemingly only – inbound option.

Watch the play again. Nobody is moving except for Wall. With only 4.5 precious seconds remaining, there was no reason to draw up a first option which — even if successful — would exhaust one or two seconds unnecessarily.

8. Wall (Possibly) Did Not Even Take a Three-Point Shot

This one is a little hard to tell, but Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Sharp pointed out that John Wall’s foot was on the line for his game-ending shot. If the ball had gone in, we would no doubt have been treated to a Zapruder-like inspection of Wall’s shoe. But, alas, it missed. So, we may never know the truth.

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Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.