During a Memphis win over Toronto on March 23, Grizzlies forward Stromile Swift
posted 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting while guard Earl Watson
dished four assists in just 14 minutes. But more impressive than their final stat lines was their spectacular long-distance alley-oop in the first quarter, with Watson hitting Swift from half-court for the jam.
Now both players, along with forward Bo Outlaw -- who ignited the fast break with a defensive rebound -- discuss the anatomy of a stylish play, Grizzlies style.
What did you see on that play?
See the Earl-to-Stro show:
I saw Stromile running past halfcourt. It was a scatter play -- I got the ball, I saw him and he had a step on Vince Carter
. Both those guys can jump, so itís a chance that I took. But you know I got a lot of trust in Stromile. Itís mostly a play of trust, because you donít throw those passes unless you totally trust your teammate -- just put it up there for him and let him do the rest.
Swift: We were just doing what we do -- grab rebounds and get out on the break. I was one of the first guys down there and Earl saw me and threw it up there and went up and got it.
Outlaw: I was at the start of the play I think I might have rebounded and kicked it out, after that I saw Earl jump and throw it, and then Stro got up and jumped and caught it. I was in the midst of some defensive pressure, but it was a very exciting play at that time.
So you have a comfort level on the break?
Watson: Absolutely thereís a comfort level. You can throw him a lob basically anywhere on the court, anywhere near the backboard and you know heís going get it even on a dead sprint, heís so athletic and thatís something that you canít do with everybody.
Swift: Yeah, but I feel the same way with all the guards on this team. If they see me open theyíll throw it up there -- itís always good to have that on the team.
Are there any specific designed alley-oop plays with Earl and Stro?
Watson: No, not really all of it comes within the flow of the game, the creativity. Stro is a smart player so you just trust him with it and you just read off each other and play off each other. We are getting better with it as the year goes on. It takes time to build that trust, that chemistry.
Outlaw: You know its all about personnel. Earl wonít throw that for some people, but thatís personnel everyone in the gym knows, everyone on this team knows -- you throw it up there, Stro is going to try and go get it. There arenít too many plays when he wonít go get it up there.
Are there any other memorable alley-oops that you two have had?
Watson: He has so many dunks -- there are just so many plays he makes. Just about any time you have a chance to do it, I try. But sometimes you have to hold back because you donít want to turn the ball over. About 90 percent of the time on any given play you can throw him a lob because he jumps so high and heís so much quicker than other big men his size. I have to turn him down sometimes but when it's there I try to take advantage of it.
Swift: If I donít get fouled I think Iíll finish the play -- every time.