Posted October 31, 2013

Video: Kevin Love hits a clutch three-pointer to force overtime against Orlando

Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves, Rob Mahoney

While end-game situations are often seen as a stage for the league’s best isolation scorers, the inbound play is an equally prominent showcase for creative coaching. Many of the best on the clipboard use these inbound sets — particularly those after a timeout — as a chance to not only get the ball in the hands of their best shot creator but also to do so in a position of advantage.

Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman did just that Wednesday when Minnesota trailed Orlando by three points with 12.5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The play the Wolves ran wasn’t particularly complex, but it relied on a basic misdirection: the placement of Kevin Love as if he were a screener, followed by his sudden cut through a crowd of players. Love received the inbound pass from Ricky Rubio in step, squared up and made a game-tying three-pointer. Minnesota stopped the Magic on the last possession of regulation and went on to win 120-115 in overtime.

Of course, Love wouldn’t have been open at all had it not been for a doggedly illegal screen from Nikola Pekovic, who warded off the scrambling Solomon Jones. The lesson here: Smart play design is effective, but the NBA’s dark arts are even more so.

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