A great game with a great finish last night between the San Antonio Spurs and the Sacramento Kings. The Spurs have been hammered by injuries with 2 of the big 3 (Parker + Ginobili) out. But they still play hard defense and they still have Duncan. I really thought the Kings should have won the game, but their late game execution was a little puzzling.

The Kings started out doubling Duncan hard, on the first dribble after the catch. But in the last 2 possessions, they don't (well, they do double but its way too late). I don't understand why you wouldn't double hard after you just doubled Duncan hard and forced the ball out of Duncan's hands and the turnover. Watch,

Double on Bounce:

There were 2 big defensive stops the Kings got under 4 minutes. This one was one of them. They allow Duncan to receive the ball, then double him as soon as he takes the first dribble,

The Kings forced 2 big turnovers late in the game and got a 2 point lead.

Don't Double Duncan:

If something works, I think you keep doing it. I'm not sure why coach Reggie Theus decided not to continue the double on the bounce. Or maybe his players just didn't listen to him. Either way, they let Duncan make his move. Watch this first play, Duncan is already making his move and the defense doesn't move to double (well tries to but is way late, then doesn't want to foul him), also note that the shot clock is at 5, so if you double Duncan hard and he passes out, probably they won't get the shot off in time,

On the game winning play, for some reason, the Kings decide to double the ball-screen. That is usually fine, but first, this is Duncan you're allowing to roll to the basket, and second, you'd better have help-side already in the lane. The help is late, the recover is late, Duncan with the easy layup,

The play design was good by coach Gregg Popovich. Look at all that open space where Duncan rolls. I still don't know why the Kings chose to trap the ball-screen. Nobody asked coach Theus in the post-game remarks so I guess we'll never know...


Basketball is game of choices. To double or not to double, when to double, double before the catch, on the bounce, etc... The nuance is what makes the game so interesting in my opinion. To find out what worked, what didn't, what to do next time.

The Kings seem to be going sideways, not much better than last season, not much worse. It's a tough conference, and they've made some iffy moves, we'll see if coach Theus can turn things around. As for the Spurs, I think Popovich will take .500 until Parker and Ginobili get back (sometime in Dec/Jan I believe).

If you're looking for more info on doubling down, I recommend Kermit Davis' DVD on Defending the Pick and Roll, Ball-screens, and Trapping. Coach Davis is currently the head coach at Middle Tennessee State University. To discuss this and many more of your favorite basketball topics, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk with other coaches from around the world.