3-Point Play: Knicks, Hornets, Lakers And The Hand-off Pick-and-Roll

Welcome back to The 3-Point Play, a semi-regular recurring feature here at HoopChalk. Every so often, I’ll take a quick look at sets from three different teams that have something in common. Rather than devoting a separate post to each of them, they’ll all be grouped together here. Today, we’ve got the Knicks, Hornets and Lakers running three different variations of the dribble hand-off pick-and-roll.

The Knicks set up in horns with Pablo Prigioni handling the ball at the top of the key, Ronnie Brewer and JR Smith in opposite corners, and Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony at the elbows. Once Prigs enters the ball to Anthony at the left elbow, where he’s been destroying power forwards off the dribble this season, he’s essentially out of the play, but he does engage in some back-side screening action. He and Chandler set a double pin-down screen for Brewer to pop out to the top of the key, and Chandler slips his roll to the basket while Prigioni pops out to the corner.

With Tayshaun Prince crowding him, Carmelo dribbles directly at JR Smith’s man and executes a dribble hand-off while also screening Smith’s man. Melo usually likes to slip his rolls and pop out for a jumper, but he holds it this time and JR gets a wide open look at the basket.

The Hornets actually run four pick-and-rolls on this play. They start out in horns as well, with Greivis Vazquez handling at the top of the key, Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith at the blows, and Austin Rivers and Xavier Henry at the corners. Vazquez gets an initial screen moving left from Smith, who rolls through the middle of the lane as Anderson comes over and sets another screen for Vazquez coming back to the right side. The Hornets, as I explored earlier this season, often like to have their bigs screen one after another in pick-and-rolls, using the roll/pop combo action to free one of them for a jumper or on a dive to the rim.

When neither of the first two screen-and-rolls creates anything, Anderson sets another screen for Vazquez moving back to his left, and while Anderson rolls to the rim, Smith comes in behind to replace him as the outlet man. Vazquez hits him with a pass, and after initially thinking about a shot, Smith kicks off the dribble hand-off pick-and-roll with Henry. Kenneth Faried goes under the screen and JaVale McGee doesn’t jump out hard, so Henry winds up with an open look.

The Lakers, like the Knicks and Hornets above, start out this play in a horns set. Darius Morris dribbles above the top of the key, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol are at the elbows, and Kobe Bryant and Antawn Jamison are in the corners. Morris runs a high pick-and-roll with Howard, and when Gasol’s defender crashes down into the lane to tag Howard on the roll, Morris throws him a swing pass over his head.

All that defensive movement also brought Bryant’s defender down into the lane, so when Gasol kicks off the dribble hand-off action, there is already space between Kobe and OJ Mayo. Mayo and Shawn Marion don’t do the best job communicating on the pick-and-roll here, and they both chase Kobe and leave Gasol wide open just outside the lane for a jumper.

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