Today we will take a look at what the Lakers run when the triangle is isn't working.
In yesterday's much anticipated Christmas game featuring the Heat versus the Lakers, the Lakers' triangle offense struggled mightily against Miami's suffocating defense, scoring a measly 0.94 points per possession and ending with a 92.6 Off Rtg (down from their season average of 112.3). The Lakers countered by forgoing the triangle in favor of pick and roll basketball.
Here Kobe quickly advances the ball. The triangle is being set up on the weak side of the floor. Pau trails the ball and goes to set a screen for Kobe who has settled in the wing. We see, even in a pick and roll situation, that the standard triangle positions are still maintained. This ensures that Kobe knows exactly where his teammates will be when the defense rotates over to help. Big Z goes to trap Kobe off the screen so Bosh must rotate from Odom to prevent the rolling Pau from receiving the ball. This causes James to rotate over from Artest to help on Odom. The skip pass is made to the open Artest who drives, drawing three Heat defenders. Odom receives the dump off and converts the layup.
Again we see Kobe pushing the ball, the triangle being set up on the weakside, and Pau trailing then setting the screen. Miami traps Kobe off the screen again, but instead of Bosh rotating to Pau (who has slipped the screen), Carlos Arroyo rotates off Fisher in the corner. Kobe passes over to Artest in the wing. The threat of Fisher in the corner draws Arroyo back to the corner allowing a wide open Pau to finish off the alley oop.
Next we'll look at a Kings game from November:
Again we see Kobe pushing the ball, but instead of going to an empty side of the floor, he makes a direct entry into the wing position (pushing Odom to the corner). Again, Pau trails the ball. In a normal triangle play, Pau would slide into the post to form a triangle and the offense would operate from there. Instead Pau sets a screen. As Kobe drives into the lane off the screen, Odom fans away from the corner to the wing. Carl Landry, who is caught up attempting to help from the vacated corner, leaves Odom wide open for a catch and shoot three.
Again we see the same thing. Kobe is the push man. He makes a direct entry into the wing, Pau trails to set the screen, the Kings go to trap Kobe, the corner defender rotates over the help on the rolling Gasol, leaving their man (this time Fisher) open for a catch and shoot three.
Pick and rolls between Pau and Kobe (who are arguably the two most skilled players at their positions in today's game) are deadly indeed, but this is a blog dedicated to the triangle offense! Let's try to get back to the offense.
We have looked at examples where pick and rolls are designed actions within the format of the triangle (*cough cough*). To bridge the gap between those plays and out right pick and rolls, let's take a look at another Triangle staple, the open set:
In this November game against the Raptors, we see time winding down in the first quarter.
The Lakers are in an "Open" set, designed to give Kobe an isolation at the top of the floor. The other players forgo their triangle positions. Instead they stay out of the inside, spotting up in the corners and along the sideline. This open set is a carry over from the Michael Jordan era Bulls (take a wild guess who the isolation was for back then). Here Pau comes to set the screen up top. Every single Raptors defender is preoccupied with Kobe driving and they all ignore their man giving Kobe plenty of wide open options to pass to. Blake converts on the most efficient jump shot in basketball, the corner three.
This clip is from another Kings game from early December. Again it's an open set as the clock winds down. We see Kobe direct the angle of Derrick Caracter's screen. Kobe freezes the defense with his in and out dribble towards Caracter's screen. He then quickly explodes away from the screen and gets to the basket for the and 1.