The Los Angeles Lakers again needed overtime to come away with a victory, though this time only one extra period to secure a 119-112 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After a subpar start and squandering a lead, the Lakers seemed to finally have things in hand, but an unfortunate foul from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope allowed the Thunder to tie the game with less than three seconds remaining.
With the Lakers up three, Thunder point guard Shai Gilgious-Alexander came down the court and was able to get Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to bite on a pump fake and draw the foul on the 3-point attempt.
Gilgious-Alexander calmly knocked down each of the free throws to send the game to the extra period.
As is usually the case in situations like this, some wondered why the Lakers allowed the Thunder to get off a shot attempt in the first place as many teams prefer to commit a foul early on in the possession and not give them the chance to tie.
“We prefer to foul if there’s an opportunity intelligently to do so; that typically means the ball is inside the 3,” Vogel explained after the game.
“If a guy is bringing the ball up the court, it’s risky. Our rule is to downward dribble if we can take one. But if you’re unsure, play it out is kind of how we play it. Make them make a tough shot. Shai made a helluva play with the shot fake and jump in. You live with that. We have situational ways that our guys are trained when to take the foul in that situation.”
It is a very tough situation to be in as if the offensive player sees the foul coming, they will enter their shooting motion and potentially get three shots which is the worst possible scenario. Caldwell-Pope decided to play it straight up, which Vogel was fine with, but made the always brutal mistake of leaving his feet which ultimately cost him.
The play itself only happened thanks to a successful challenge from Vogel on a Dennis Schroder foul. The referees ruled that there was no foul which forced a jump ball that Oklahoma City won and led to the prior play.
“We just didn’t win the jump ball,” Vogel added. “That’s why, there’s a lot of times throughout the game where it’s when to use your challenge and when to keep it.
“Sometimes it goes unused in a situation where you could’ve used it three, four, five minutes in the fourth or even earlier in the game. We try to keep it until the end of games, for that situation specifically.
“Tonight it worked out that we were able to keep it. That was a key play, because it was all ball on a play at the rim. We prevented those free throws. We’ve just got to win a jump ball.”
Vogel encouraging Lakers to seek fouls
That play that Gilgious-Alexander executed is something Vogel has been pushing for his team to do. Vogel and the Lakers’ coaching staff have noticed players have often forced defenders to leave their feet, but instead dribble away or go by them instead of getting the foul.
In Saturday’s game against the Detroit Pistons, Kuzma did exactly that which caused a huge reaction from the Lakers bench.
“I’m encouraging my guys when they have defenders off their feet, to jump into them and get three free throws,” Vogel revealed. “We’re missing those opportunities. We had Joker up in the air five or six times the last game. Kuz finally listened.
“We have a joke that if somebody does it they get the day off. So Kuz got the day off [Sunday]. We kind of, sort have the day off anyway, but Kuz earned that day off with that play.”
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