Take a shot, please
A few pet peeves as we swing toward the end of the NBA's regular season ...
• Why does a player often choose not to attempt a desperation shot from midcourt or longer at the end of a quarter — or stall around a little and then take one just after the clock has expired? The answer: Because the player doesn't want to have the missed field-goal attempt on his statistical line. I suggested years ago that a last-second shot from beyond halfcourt not count against a player's stats. But then what happens if the ball goes through the basket? So yeah, the shot should count, but the player should have enough integrity to launch one. You never know, it may go in.
• Why not try a tip with .3 of a second or less to go in a quarter? A player cannot catch and shoot with that little time remaining, but a tip is allowed. Yet many times a team won't even try to score. What's the downside — another missed field-goal attempt? Coaches are complicent in this, too. They let it go. Shame on them. Again, you never know. Throw the ball up at the rim and see what happens.
• The unwritten rule in the spirit of good sportsmanship is this: A team about to win a game with the ball and under 24 seconds to go dribbles out the clock. It makes perfect sense. But what if there is more than 24 seconds left? Sometimes with 30, 35, even 40 seconds to go, teams dribble out the 24 seconds take a violation. That's unnecessary. With a win secure, a team likely has reserves in the game. It's not rubbing it in to let one of them take a final shot, as long as there is more than 24 seconds on the clock.
• When a team is trailing and has the ball inside the final 24 seconds of a quarter, why play for the last shot? In that situation, the clock is your enemy. Working time off the clock is not to your advantage. Score when you can, play defense and maybe you'll get a turnover and a chance at another basket and slicing into the deficit.
• When a team is behind in the final minute, it has become chic on an inbound play in backcourt to roll the ball in bounds and have the receiver pick up the ball near midcourt, saving valuable seconds. By why roll the ball in just three minutes a game, as Carmelo Anthony did it to CJ McCollum in Atlanta on Saturday?
• Offensive rebound totals are meaningful, since it indicates how well a team is going to the offensive boards (and how poorly the opponent is protecting the defensive boards). But why even mention a team's total rebounds? If a team gets 50 rebounds and an opponent gets 60, bad on you. What's meaningful is rebound percentage.
• On a pick-and-roll play, most NBA players roll away from the ball, not toward it as was taught for about the first 100 years of basketball. When you roll away (with your back facing the passer), you lose sight of the ball. I once asked Terry Stotts about it, and the Trail Blazers coach offered an explanation that didn't satisfy my need for logic.
• Here's one that Hall of Fame sportswriter Peter Vecsey tweeted out this season: You score points, but you don't "score the basketball," as so many broadcasters (and even some coaches) say these days. You rebound or pass the basketball, but you score points.
• An average of once a game, and sometimes more, a player is called for catching the ball while standing on the sideline. Really? Seems like a basic rule of basketball to stay on the court if you're going to handle the ball.
• Here's one on the NBA: When shooting a free throw, why is the rule to have one player from the non-shooting team — and only one — in the third lane? Why can't a team choose to have players on both sides? Or opt to have neither sides of the lane filled? Never had that one explained to me.
• Finally, my votes for the 2010s All-Decade Team that the Blazers are asking their fans to select:
LaMarcus Aldridge, forward; Nicolas Batum, forward; Jusuf Nurkic, center; Damian Lillard, guard; CJ McCollum, guard.
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