How a simple box out can win a game

By now, you’ve probably heard about Ron Artest’s game-winner last night in pivotal Game 5 against the Suns, but what you might not know is exactly how it happened.

In the video below, you’ll see Kobe catch the ball on the sideline and chuck up a horrible shot. But what you need to pay attention to is Ron Artest and Jason Richardson on the other side of the court. Watch as Richardson turns, stands and watches Kobe’s shot. He’s supposed to be boxing out Artest, but instead, he’s about as useless as you or I am sitting at home.

Did this play look familiar? Watch Pau Gasol’s easy route to the bucket to score his game-winner against the Thunder in the first round.

This happens time and time again. It even happened to Hakeem Olajuwon in the 1983 NCAA title game when Lorenzo Charles snuck in behind “The Dream” and dunked home the game-winner…

Once a last-second shot goes up, the tendency is for players to stop and watch, especially when they think the game is over. But with 3.5 seconds to play, there is plenty of time for a shot to go up and for a tip in on the miss. That’s what Jason Richardson, Jeff Green and Hakeem Olajuwon failed to realize in these clips.

It does no good to stop and watch. After Kobe’s desperation shot attempt, the only way the game doesn’t go to overtime is if Richardson or one of his teammates fails to box out his man. In that situation, he should be seeing both Artest and Kobe (in his peripheral vision), and when the shot goes up, he needs to make contact with Artest and do whatever it takes to keep him away from the rim. If he had even slowed Artest by a half second, the game would have gone into overtime.

And that’s how a simple box out can win a game.

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