What you may have missed: Conley-Gasol pick-and-roll mastery

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann

The highlights are great. But so is the stuff between the highlights. Here are some things you may have missed from the last week (or so) of games…

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Fri. Nov. 23 – Memphis at LA Clippers

Not breaking news: Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are pretty good and when they’re both healthy, the Memphis Grizzlies are pretty good too. The 12-8 Grizzlies have been winning more with defense (they rank fifth defensively) than offense (21st), but there have still been some flurries of offensive brilliance from their two stars.

One of those flurries took place in the second quarter in L.A. last Friday, when the Clippers couldn’t figure out how to stop the Conley-Gasol pick-and-roll, which produced five scores in less than four minutes …

  1. The Clippers trap Conley, and Gasol rolls to a space where Conley can get him the ball. When Patrick Beverley gambles, the Grizzlies have a four-on-two situation and Gasol finds Jaren Jackson Jr. under the basket.
  2. Gasol re-screens after a dribble hand-off. This time, Montrezl Harrell doesn’t trap, and Conley uses the extra space to throw a pocket pass to a rolling Gasol, who goes straight to the basket with the Clippers sending inefficient help from the weak side.
  3. With Gasol popping out to the 3-point line and Avery Bradley trailing, Harrell stays attached to Gasol and never stops Conley. Beverley brings late help from the baseline and Conley dumps the ball off to Kyle Anderson in the dunker spot.
  4. This one looks a lot like No. 2 above, except that Harrell has been replaced by Danilo Gallinari (you can probably figure out why) and the Grizzlies’ spacing is a little different.
  5. Gallinari switches the screen, but Gasol seals Beverley right away and the 6-foot-1 guard can’t handle the 7-foot-1 center on the roll.


Wed. Nov. 26 – Utah at Brooklyn

After dealing with an ankle injury in the preseason, Allen Crabbe shot just 27 percent from 3-point range through his first 15 games. Since then though, Crabbe has looked more like the guy who ranked second in 3-point percentage two seasons ago, making 18 (44 percent) of his 41 attempts from beyond the arc.

The improved shooting makes the plays the Nets run for Crabbe look better. Here are a couple of those plays from Brooklyn’s loss to the Jazz on Wednesday.

The first is a sideline out-of-bounds play. Crabbe inbounds the ball and runs off two screens (from D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen). Ricky Rubio switches onto him on the first screen (the Jazz switch 1-4), but is then trailing after the second screen (the Jazz typically don’t switch with their centers). When Crabbe fakes like he’s going to set a screen for Joe Harris, Rubio hesitates, thinking he’s going to switch that screen. But Crabbe never sets it and slips out to the left corner, where Harris finds him for an open 3-pointer before Rubio can recover.

The second play is the first possession of the third quarter. Crabbe again fakes like he’s setting a screen (this one for Russell), and his man (Joe Ingles) switches it. Rubio never actually feels the screen, so he’s late to switch out to Crabbe, who gets a back-screen from Allen as he flares out to the right wing.


Wed. Nov. 21 – New Orleans at Philadelphia

You don’t often see baseline out-of-bounds plays get layups. But if you were watching the fourth quarter of the Pelicans-Sixers game last Wednesday, you saw the same play (from difference sides of the basket and against different defenders) get two layups from E’Twaun Moore.

In both cases, the two Sixers guarding the Pelicans at the free-throw line don’t want to leave their guys, where just a little hedge off of them could allow Moore’s defender (Wilson Chandler on the first play, J.J. Redick on the second) to recover.


Wed. Nov. 21 – Phoenix at Chicago

A switching defense is meant to keep the defenders in between the offensive players and the basket. But with a screen that’s set at a good angle and a strong seal, Jabari Parker takes advantage of the Suns switching the screen he sets for Cameron Payne.

Payne passes across to Robin Lopez, who makes a perfect pass to Parker rolling to the basket.


Fri. Nov. 23 – Boston at Atlanta

At the end of the second quarter last Friday, the Hawks twice caught the Celtics anticipating screens that Alex Len never set.

First, with Len looking like he’s going to set a ball screen for Jeremy Lin, Kyrie Irving takes a step to his left, giving Lin an opening to get into the paint. Len never sets that ball screen and instead turns to set a pin-down screen for Justin Anderson in the right corner.

Gordon Hayward anticipates that screen and when he takes a step toward it, Anderson goes back door and Hayward has to foul him.

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John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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