Video Breakdown: What is “Pistol” action?

Leave a comment

Last year I did a video on defensive terminology as part of one big glossary. This season, I thought it would be fun to do some videos on specific offensive or defensive basketball terms that you may have heard, whether from NBA Twitter heads or simply from your more studious friends.

There’s so much terminology out there, and a lot of duplicate terms for the same thing, so let’s take it slow this week and start out easy with something on offense.

Today we’re talking about “Pistol Action” something that’s also referred to in passing as “Pistol”.

Pistol is actually really easy once you know what it is, and it’ll be fun to recognize it as you’ll see it over and over again since just about every team in the NBA runs it.

Read the breakdown below, or watch the full video breakdown at the top of this page.

What is Pistol?

pistol triangle

The setup is simple. Pistol is an action early in the offense with a guard handling the ball, a wing in the corner, and either another post or a wing settled at the elbow or 3-point line. They are set up in a loose triangle and it is always run toward the sideline.

Pistol action is when a guard dribbles up the floor quickly toward a wing in the corner, while a post stands nearby at the elbow or 3-point line to assist on screening for one or both players.

There are only two main Pistol options to start a play: One is a dribble handoff, and the other is a pick and roll. It’s that easy.

Pistol Dribble Handoff

As James Harden dribbles toward the sideline in the play above, Patrick Beverley comes up from the far wing. Harden then flips the ball to Beverley, who now gets a screen from the post player.

This is the end of the action we would typically refer to as “Pistol”.

As Pistol is simply the early portion of most offensive sets, it’s a reference to an action you can pick out of an entire play.

Pistol Pick-and-Roll

The pick-and-roll in the Pistol starts when the wing comes up from the corner to set a pick for the ball handler. At this point, a ball-handler will typically run around a second screen by the big man who is part of the triangle.

In the example above, we’re looking at the Portland Trail Blazers run C.J. McCollumn on a slip screen — a screen where instead of making firm contact with a defender, light or no contact is had and McCollum is trying to “slip” free after setting a quick screen.

Portland adds another wrinkle with this one as Mason Plumlee slips HIS screen to dive to the lane, which gives Lillard an open pass and a made basket.

Review

Simply put, Pistol is a quick sideline play with three players that involves a dribble handoff or a pick and roll.

There are infinite options, but if you hear someone say “Pistol” or “Pistol Action” you’ll know they’re referring to that setup on the sideline and that initial exchange between point guard, wing, and big man in that triangle.

Joel Embiid upgrades himself from 69% to 81%: ‘Shoutout to Jalen Rose’

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
2 Comments

A story in three parts:

1. After posting 46-15-7-7 in a win over the Lakers, frequently injured 76ers center Joe Embiid declared himself to be 69%:

2. ESPN analyst Jalen Rose called that joke “unprofessional:”

3. Embiid upgraded his status to 81% with a “shoutout to Jalen Rose:”

In case you didn’t get the joke.

Celtics’ Kyrie Irving: “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Celtics established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, a contender for the Eastern Conference title, during their 16-game win streak.

However, that hot streak to start the season will matter as much as Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the refrigerator in April by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a team that still has work to do.

Which is what Kyrie Irving was getting at in this post-loss quote from Friday night, via Israel Gutierrez of ESPN.

“There’s still a lot to accomplish going forward,” Irving said. “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

This team still needs to get better and more consistent. The Celtics had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in eight of the 16 wins, and while the team defense was impressive the offense still can be hit and miss. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving play well off each other, but this is still the 20th ranked offense in the NBA. They are taking more long midrange jumpers than most coaches want, but the bigger challenge is they have not been finishing around the basket.

Titles are not won in November. Irving gets that. Jayson Tatum will hit the rookie wall at some point (they all do) and he needs to prove he can break through. Al Horford is playing maybe the best ball of his career and needs to keep it up. The Celtics need to keep their defensive focus (the fundamentals are there to have a top five defense). I could go on but you get the point, and so does Irving — there is a lot of work for this team to do.

Boston is off to a fantastic start, but it’s just that.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
1 Comment

Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.

He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.

The San Antonio coach has seen everything.

Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.

Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”

The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.

Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

7 Comments

The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!