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Ty Lue Should Have Called Timeout, But Kawhi Leonard is the One Who Blew the Clippers' Final Possession

By Stephen Douglas
Jun 9, 2021, 10:07 AM EDT
Rudy Gobert blocks Marcus Morris to end game 1.
Rudy Gobert blocks Marcus Morris to end game 1. / Alex Goodlett/Getty Images
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The Utah Jazz beat the Los Angeles Clippers, 112-109, to win Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals series. On the final play of the game, Rudy Gobert blocked Marcus Morris' three-point attempt in the corner to seal the victory in Utah.

It was a tremendous defensive play by Gobert, who is probably about to win his third Defensive Player of the Year award. During his postgame press conference, Clippers coach Ty Lue was asked why he didn't call timeout on the final possesion. His response does not make much sense.

Lue said that he didn't call timeout because he didn't want the Jazz to have an opportunity to take out Gobert. Obviously, this was a bad decision, but the idea that the Jazz would have subbed out the best defender in the league on the most important defensive possession seems insane. But there is a moment when Gobert leaves Morris alone in the corner before the block because Kawhi Leonard looked like he was going to drive. Gobert did not stay home on his guy in a situation where the Jazz would have been happy to give up a layup.

Lue probably expected Leonard or Paul George (4-for-17 on the night) to take that shot, instead of Morris, who was 1-of-8 from three at the time. Instead, they both kind of hot-potatoed the ball and Morris ended up getting blocked by Gobert who recovered because he is a good defender after Kawhi picked up his dribble.

Probably the biggest strategical mistake on that play was sticking with Rondo. Luke Kennard was 4-for-6 from three last night, but he didn't even get a look. Probably because there was no play drawn up. He just stood on the weak side with Rondo. If they had called timeout they could have replaced Rondo with Nicolas Batum, but even then both of those guys shot 40 percent from three this season.

The blame for this should simply fall on Leonard and George. And since we have zero real expectations for Playoff P, the blame should go on Kawhi. The basketball robot malfunctioned. He got the ball, facing the basket with 6.9 seconds remaining. He took one dribble and threw the ball to the corner to Morris. As Jason McIntyre pointed out, if LeBron James had been the one to throw this pass it is all anyone would be talking about today. Instead, Kawhi, who just doesn't generate that kind of emotion, will get a quiet pass as Ty Lue takes the blame because of his postgame quote.

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