Though Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni is seen as something of the Godfather of the spread pick-and-roll, his team has been inserted more horns sets recently to take advantage of the excellent high post passing of Pau Gasol. On Christmas day against the New York Knicks, the Lakers used a familiar horns play to set up a new, exciting option.
This is something we saw a lot from the Lakers the last few years. They set up in horns with Pau and Andrew Bynum at opposite elbows, Kobe Bryant and Small Forward X (in this case, Devin Ebanks) in each corner, and Point Guard of the Day (here, Ramon Sessions) handling the ball at the top of the key. Sessions enters the ball to Gasol in the high post, then cuts through the key and sets a screen for Kobe coming across the lane.
As Kobe cuts, Bynum sets a down screen for Sessions, who pops up to the top of the key. Pau has two different options to choose from, and here he hits Kobe with an interior pass for an easy basket.
Early in their Christmas day game against the Knicks, the Lakers run a similar version of this play and Kobe gets a back door layup out of it.
Steve Nash enters the ball to Gasol in the high post, then goes to set a screen for Kobe in the corner. Kobe gets away with a little bit of a shove on Jason Kidd, but the Knicks were probably beat on the play anyway. Kidd was cheating to stop Kobe from coming off the screen, so the Lakers just went back door.
Later in the first quarter, the Lakers used the expectation of this set against the Knicks to set up something else.
Again the Lakers are in horns, and again Nash enters the ball to Gasol in the high post. Nash cuts through the lane, but this time he’s just feigning that he’s going to set a screen for the man in the corner. Instead, he waits in that spot, as if he’s going to get a down screen from Howard and pop out near the elbow.
But Howard’s just feigning, too. He starts off like he’s going to set a screen for Nash on the block, but changes course and comes back to kick off a 4-5 pick-and-roll with Gasol near the free throw line. Nash pops up just as he would if he were coming off a Howard screen, which helps to distract both Kidd and Carmelo Anthony, who’s guarding Artest in the corner.
Kurt Thomas leaves Howard to hedge on Gasol as he dribbles across the free throw line, while Tyson Chandler takes Howard on the roll. Seeing that Chandler is trailing Howard to the rim, Gasol lobs it up and Dwight slams it home.