If you missed Friday night's fever dream between the Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings, I highly recommend finding a way to catch up. Fire up League Pass, see if NBA TV is showing a re-run soon, go to YouTube. Do something.
We're not seeing another 176-175 in double overtime anytime soon. At the very least, I find it hard to believe we will.
That game had everything: Kawhi Leonard (44-4-4-3-2) going off, De'Aaron Fox (42-5-12-5) reaffirming his lead in the Clutch Player of the Year race, a career-night from Malik Monk (45 points and 6 assists), Paul George (34-10-5) losing his mind before losing the ball over and over and over again. A Russell Westbrook debut befitting of the future Hall of Famer: 17 points, 14 assists (7 turnovers) and 6 fouls with the Clippers winning his minutes by three points.
Insane three-point shooting, bully-ball post-ups, transition exploits, and ultimately, history. It's the second-highest scoring NBA game of all-time, and the first time in NBA history that a game went into overtime with both teams having at least 150 points beforehand.
The Kings probably aren't in position to potentialy force overtime without the Clippers' turnover-fest — and Fox's defensive masterclass — within the last three minutes of the game. And we certainly don't get the overtime without Monk's three from the right corner with 1.1 seconds left.
It's a tremendous mix of "what a play call" and "what are the Clippers doing" — enough that it warrants a breakdown of the play. Let's talk about what happened, and why it happened.
As Mark Jones expertly calls out during the mayhem, the Kings are trying to set up a "Hammer" on the weakside for Monk. The tell for the "Hammer" would be the late screen being set by Keegan Murray as Monk flows to the corner. The setup beforehand, however, is pretty important.
Monk tests the Clippers early by setting a brush screen for Fox right after the inbound. On three occasions before this moment, Monk set early-in-the-clock screens for Fox, with the Clippers opting to switch. Even in the second instance — a Fox triple — you can see Terance Mann dropping down in anticipation of a switch.
As Monk comes across, George subtly grabs Monk. Westbrook turns and hovers around the nail at that moment. A favorable (but ultimately inexcusable) interpretation of Westbrook's actions would be him viewing Paul's grab as a sign he was getting ready to switch, thus making Fox the priority of Westbrook.
But even with Westbrook ultimately making the wrong read, the Clippers had chances to avoid disaster. With Westbrook at the nail, Nicolas Batum had the opportunity to pick up Monk as he made his way around the right wing.
More pressing is what Norm Powell does. He drops down from the weakside corner, showing help against the empty corner ball screen being "ran" by Fox and Domantas Sabonis. If he does that in the second quarter, you don't really blink. Doing so when the Kings are down three, with no timeouts, is an unfortunate lapse in judgment.