For better analysis nothing beats cranking up the old projector and going through game film. In the spirit of the “Every Play Counts” series made popular by FootballOutsiders.com, I’ve decided to analyze parts of the Knicks loss to the Heat from Sunday’s game. Instead of following one player during the game, I chose two players at two different times of the game.
The person I’ve chosen to review is Stephon Marbury in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. Fast forward to 47 seconds left in the game. The Knicks, who led for most of the game, has seen their lead dwindle to a single point in the final minute. New York needs to score in order to keep the game in their hands, and they use a timeout in order to draw their play. After the inbound pass, Marbury receives the ball on the top of the key. Curry sets a pick for Stephon who goes to his left and drives towards the hoop. The Heat counter with a double team him by Alonzo Mourning. Marbury leaves his feet and panics in mid-air throwing the ball cross court. The pass was intended for Crawford in the right corner, but Crawford left that spot and the pass sails out of bounds. Rewinding the tape reveals an unguarded Eddy Curry heading towards the lane, because the Heat left Curry alone to double Marbury. It was a standard high pick & roll play, and the Knicks’ point guard missed the most obvious recipient – the man that set the pick.
Now Miami has the ball with 37 seconds left, trailing by only 1 point. Jason Williams tries to get free from Marbury, and runs through two picks in order to shed his defender. To Stephon’s credit, he stays on Williams. The Miami guard drives towards the blocks, near Mourning, but gives it up to Ricky Davis on the outside. At this point in time, there are three Miami players on the left side of the court. Rickey Davis is behind the arc with the ball. Alonzo Mourning is trying to setup in the low post, with Jason Williams next to him due to the aborted drive. Curry has good position on Mourning, and doesn’t allow him to get his feet set. Marbury is next to Williams, in the vicinity of Mourning. As the play continues, Williams drifts out to the corner. Instead of following his man, Marbury inexplicably decides to stay with an off-balance Mourning to form a double team and prevent the ball from going inside. Davis passes the ball to a wide open Williams who hits the jumper to give Miami the lead for the last time.
The Knicks would have two more opportunities to tie or win. On one possession they would cough up the ball, and on the last New York failed to get anyone open for a game tying three pointer. While most games aren’t lost on a handful of possessions, the two plays above were at the most critical moments of the game. New York had the lead and failed to either extend it or protect it. The last time I ran a query like this, Eddy Curry was the goat of the game. This time Stephon Marbury made two mental mistakes which cost New York the game.
Stay tuned for part II, where I look at David Lee’s play against the Heat.