Sunday, June 14, 2009

Express News: So much for young and athletic
By Buck Harvey

Jameer Nelson backed up as Derek Fisher dribbled toward him. Then Mickael Pietrus drove to nowhere with Orlando's best shooter, Rashard Lewis, open in the corner.

And in various living rooms around San Antonio, Spurs coaches remembered why they have erred on the side of experience these last few years.

How many stupid teams win championships?

Coaches can err, too. Maybe Gregg Popovich should have put a defender on Gary Payton's inbounds pass to Fisher in 2004. Maybe Stan Van Gundy should have instructed someone to foul before a Laker could launch a 3-pointer at the end of regulation Thursday.

But those are basic options that coaches argue in staff meetings, and there's another side even when their way of doing things doesn't work. By pulling a defender off of Payton in order to double Kobe Bryant in 2004, Popovich made sure someone else would take the last shot; Fisher did. And had Van Gundy ordered an intentional foul Thursday night, there was still a lot of time left. Besides, the intentional foul could have turned into a 3-point attempt and three free throws.

What usually decides these moments are the on-court decisions, such as when Nelson stepped back as if trying to prevent Fisher from driving. Stealing an autographed Michael Jordan jersey from Tony Parker and listing it on Craigslist the next day made as much sense. Fisher's only option was a 3-pointer.

When Pietrus followed by panicking with the clock running down, he played to his reputation. The Spurs have been impressed with him in this postseason; at times he has looked exactly like the kind of young and athletic wing the Spurs have needed. But he's never been known as a smart player, and this play confirmed that.


"This is going to sound crazy," a Los Angeles Times columnist wrote about Fisher, "but even Robert Horry never hit consecutive shots this big."

That does sound crazy -- to anyone who saw Game 5 in the 2005 Finals.


Fisher said this night was "even greater than .4," and he's right. The Lakers didn't win the title in 2004.

They will now.

No comments:

Sports Top Blogs