Immediately after the Kings’ final possession against the Dallas Mavericks failed, Paul Westphal was under scrutiny from those who watched the Kings lose at home in probably their best game of the young season.
But after watching it a couple of times, I have to say there was nothing wrong with the play call. It was actually a very good play with tons of options to score. The ball was put in the hands of DeMarcus Cousins and he ended up failing. It wasn’t Westphal’s fault. Cousins just made a mistake.
Let’s break this down Sebastian Pruiti style and pretend we’re NBA Playbook for a day.
Play starts with a clutter of Kings between the elbow and the 3-point line with Francisco Garcia down by the baseline. Omri jets to the near corner, Landry flashes to the far corner and Garcia moves to the far sideline above the 3-point line. Cousins flashes towards Tyreke to receive the pass.
As soon as Tyreke inbounds the ball, he cuts through the lane behind Jason Kidd after he fakes towards Cousins for the hand-off. At this point, Cousins should have hit Reke with a good pass over the top. This is where the play begins to fall apart.
Once Cousins misses the opportunity, Chandler’s wingspan takes away the passing lane and closes off that option for DeMarcus. This gives Cousins the lane to drive, which he does.
Cousins has one more chance to pass to Reke once Chandler has to cut off the drive, but Kidd drops down. As DMC gets into the lane, Dirk helps off of Carl Landry. This is another misses scoring opportunity because Cousins did have a slight window to drop the pass down to Reke. He also could have just tried to score the ball himself.
Cousins opts to kick out to Landry at the 3-point line, probably out of nervousness. Dirk tips the pass and it gets Landry farther away from the basket but actually gives Carl a better driving lane on the baseline.
Landry drives the baseline but instead of just going into Chandler and trying to score over him or draw the contact, he goes deeper towards the baseline and gets caught behind the backboard.
Landry really has nowhere to go with the ball or the pass at this point. He forces one out to Garcia about 35 feet from the basket. Jason Terry cuts over to intercept the pass and seal the win for the Mavericks.
Sad Panda. Terry steals the ball and the Kings lose the game.
Here is the play in real time.
Overall, I think Westphal is unfairly taking heat for this final play. The play in theory was brilliant. It gave the Kings multiple opportunities to score and tie the game. Maybe you can rip him for putting the ball in the hands of a rookie, but that happened a few times last season and worked out fine.
Good play but poor execution.