Derrick Rose, Jordan Farmar, John Salmons, and Kyrie Irving all have something in common: they hit game winners last night, and the World Champion channel surfer over here saw each and every one of them, live! Here are my thoughts…
First, Derrick Rose. Um… you’ve got to double. Rose, Kobe, Carmelo… you’ve got to double these guys. Get the ball out of their hands, do your best to rotate, and sink or swim, in this case, on a Luol Deng three-pointer. Nice Jon Leuer t-shirt, guy in the first row.
Jordan Farmar… he did his best to refute my doubling theory, but I still say that’s what you’ve got to do. Chris Paul probably should’ve been more aggressive in getting to Williams so he could’ve disrupted the pass, and Kenyon Martin wasn’t at all ready to run out at Farmar to contest the shot. Had Farmar missed the Nets would’ve lost this game in depressing fashion. Shelden Williams had just fouled Chris Paul on a hedge as he dribbled about five or ten feet outside of the three-point line. This was Williams’ lone f@ck up, though… he killed the Clippers to the tune of 15 points and 10 boards.
Salmons’ layup is a little different than the others as he didn’t really play hero. Isiah Thomas, who came up with the steal, made the huge play in Sacramento… Salmons simply put the icing on the cake. This play is a prime example of how passing into the backcourt in late-game situations can be very dangerous. However, it never should’ve resulted in a Sacramento layup. Marco Belinelli had his hands on the ball and simply failed to reel it in. Credit Isiah Thomas for being there to disrupt the catch.
Lastly, Kyrie Irving. I always say I see a lot of Chris Paul in him. I see some Derrick Rose, too. And now, after last night’s coast-to-coast game winner in Denver, I can finally say I’ve seen a little bit of Stephon Marbury in the young man. In this case, that’s a good thing!
Scott Hastings, as big a homer as he is… his unexcited reaction really says it all from a coach’s perspective. How do you allow a guy to go the length of the floor and finish at the rim with a single crossover dribble? Irving covered 94 feet, changed direction once (before he even crossed halfcourt), and was able to take a straight path right through the paint all the way to the bucket. I’m sure George Karl has already torn out whatever hair he had left when it happened. The Nuggets gave Irving clear paths to the rim throughout the fourth quarter, so it’s fitting that they lost on the play that they did.
From a fan’s perspective, you love everything about this play. Irving scores the second (right?) game winner of his career in just his 33rd game, and on another take to the basket. You’ve got to appreciate the young man’s aggressiveness late in tight ball games. I can imagine being a Sixer fan, watching this, considering all of those Andre Iguodala bricks and airballs I’ve seen over the years… and just longing for a player like this. When a jumper is released there’s really only one positive outcome: it goes in. When a guy drives to the basket a world of favorable possibilities emerge. A foul, an offensive rebound, a pass to a wide-open teammate, or of course a completed layup are all potential results. So far, Irving has simply made the layups (in one case he actually missed, but that’ll probably never happen again), ’cause he’s awesome.
I’d say Derrick Rose hit the most “big-time” shot simply because the entire Bradley Center knew precisely what he was going to do… then he did it. I’m most impressed by young Kyrie’s play, though. To take the ball from baseline to baseline, bad defense or not, is a display of will in that situation. I love this kid’s attitude, and I can’t stress that enough. Keep taking that ball to the rack, Kyrie!