Atlanta Hawks v Miami Heat

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Where teams can’t hit the three but keep shooting them anyway

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What you missed while wondering if banning a Dire Straits song makes any sense

Hawks 93, Heat 89 (OT): These two teams combined to take 61 shots from three on the night even though combined they made just 14 (23 percent). That kind of sums up this game — a lot of bad decisions and missed shots. This game was very entertaining. It was filled with sloppy but it was still fun to watch.

Al Horford sprained his ankle in the second half but said after the game is was not that serious. We’ll see what the reports are as Wednesday wears on but it doesn’t sound bad.

Early on Atlanta had its chance – Miami without Chris Bosh started Joel Anthony at the four and the lack of offense at the spot really hurt the Heat. Bosh is not the best Heat player but he may have the biggest drop off of talent behind him. Miami scored just 11 first quarter points and shot 31 percent for the half. But the Hawks didn’t take advantage — they ran a slow offense, pounded the ball a lot and set up isolations that played into the hands of the Heat defense. In essence, they were still the Hawks.

Then in the second quarter the Heat went small, moving LeBron James to the four spot and they started get out in transition (for a team full of athletes the Hawks are shockingly bad at transition defense). After a 12-0 run you had a game again.

It was a thrilling end of the game filled with more slop. There was Mo Evans taking a bad three-pointer then committing a foul at midcourt as the Heat came back up. The Hawks ran a beautifully designed pick-and-roll open for an ally-oop dunk and Joe Johnson threw a lob pass off the top of the backboard.

The Heat got a last shot to win in regulation and it was a Wade isolation that went nowhere and led to a cross-court pass to LeBron for a very deep three. Not pretty.

It wasn’t all bad. LeBron, back from injury, made some quality plays in overtime, a big three and a driving layup. But the erratic Hawks attacked the rim and had one of their strong stretches for those five key minutes and got the victory. Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson looked sharp when it mattered.

Fun little stat courtesy ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh: Joel Anthony had 16 rebounds (8 offensive) and no shot attempts. The only other players to do that in the modern era: Dennis Rodman and Wilt Chamberlain.

Bobcats 83, Bulls 82: The winning team in this game shot 40 percent and was 0-of-13 from three. It fits our sloppy theme for the night.

The Bulls were on the fourth game in five nights and playing without Carlos Boozer (making the starting front line Taj Gibson and Kurt Thomas), but they put up a fight. Derrick Rose almost carried them with 33 points. The Bulls just made some mistakes of execution at the end. Such as Ronnie Brewer passing up a layup to kick out to Luol Deng for a three. An open three, but no coach wants you to pass up a layup for a three (not even Paul Westhead).

For the Bobcats, that’s two wins over the Bulls in a week. Wins are wins, doesn’t matter how they come. Charlotte made the plays in the clutch — Stephen Jackson had a key fade away from the elbow, Gerald Wallace played his best ball at the end.

Three Hawks lose uncontested rebound out of bounds (video)

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How did Mike Scott, Mike Dunleavy and Malcolm Delaney fail to secure this rebound?

No wonder the Hawks lost to a Clippers team playing without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

James Harden makes impressive chase-down block. Really. (video)

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If we’re going to post all of James Harden‘s defensive lowlights, it’s only fair to acknowledge this impressive block.

Please overlook the fact that Jason Terry is 39 years old.

Steven Adams posterizes Rudy Gobert AND Derrick Favors with one thunderous dunk (video)

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Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors form an impressive defensive tandem that usually walls off the paint.

If there were any walls here, Steven Adams jumped right over them.

Video Breakdown: How Kyle Lowry dismantles NBA defenses from 3-point range

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Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry is arguably the team’s best player thanks in large part to his increase in 3-point shooting ability this season. He’s just above 43 percent from deep this year, much better than his career average of 36 percent. Lowry has increased his 3-point percentage six points over last season, and he’s a big part of why the Raptors are so good on offense, and why they’re a contender in the Eastern Conference.

So how does he do it?

Watch the full video breakdown on Lowry’s 3-point shooting above, or read the text version of the article below.

Early Offense

I looked at a lot of tape of Lowry over the last 3 years and he hasn’t changed much on his shot mechanics. There’s no big change in his sweep or sway toward the basket when he shoots, and he still brings the ball up from his left side.

Part of his leap is be how quickly he’s getting his shots off and how many of his early offense field goal attempts come in the form of 3-pointers.

Lowry has bumped up how many 3-pointers he’s taken in the early offense, recorded here as between 24 and 15 seconds on the shot clock. Year-over-year he’s taken nearly eight percent more of his field goals as three pointers in this range.

This takes form on the court in a couple of ways, both in transition on the fast break and on quick 1 or 2 dribble pull ups off the pick-and-roll.

Transition

With the ball in secondary transition here, Lowry gets a quick screen from DeMarre Carroll to open him up for a 3-point bucket against the Hornets. And that’s still with 18 seconds left on the shot clock!

Pull-up and off-the-bounce jumpers

The other way Lowry scores quickly is off the dribble, with quick pick and rolls. Toronto is great at screen assists — picks leading to an immediate field goal — and have three players in the Top 50 and two in the Top 10 in setting them.

Here, the Celtics defender cuts off Lowry’s attack to the middle of the floor. The screener sets up to Lowry’s right, but then quickly flips it to his left. One dribble, and it’s an easy 3-pointer.

Here against Portland, the Raptors run a two screen setup with one wing and one post. The Blazers make the switch and try to blitz Lowry, but he stays resilient and sinks the bucket with what little space they allow him anyway.

Working with DeMar DeRozan

The other thing that’s been talked about a lot is the gravity of DeMar DeRozan, who himself is having a career year for the Raptors. While Lowry is making a ton of unassisted 3-pointers this year, the Raptors point guard does benefit from DeMar.

Part of that is how good they are in transition together.

Here you can see DeMar bringing the ball up the court with Lowry in front of him. He sets the screen, then fades to the arc. Three Utah Jazz are trying to stop DeRozan, and Lowry is left all alone.

When he’s not the primary ball handler on the break, Lowry will immediately get out to the wing. DeRozan has a way of finding him to get up quick Js.

Of course, in good old set plays the Raptors see this gravity effect as well.

Here Toronto is running another double screen with a guard and a post, but Lowry is one of the screeners. At this point, all three Heat players are guarding against DeRozan’s midrange jumper, leaving just enough daylight for Lowry.

Toronto is also third in the NBA in “hockey” or secondary assists, which means two or more passes leading to a made field goal.

On this baseline out of bounds play, again it’s DeRozan’s gravity that frees up Lowry. As the ball is inbounded, DeRozan sucks three warriors defenders with him, including Lowry’s. Meanwhile, Kyle is running down the baseline to get a bucket off a pass on the opposite side of the floor. All the raps have to do is rotate the ball.

So that’s a little bit on why Kyle Lowry has been so good. It’s been about shot selection, decisiveness, and some practice in addition to the effectiveness of his teammates.