Okay, so the fun actually began a little bit earlier when as the officials were reviewing whether a made shot by Lewis should be a three (as originally credited) or a two, Van Gundy, in looking at the replay and seeing that Lewis's foot was actually on the three point line when attempting the shot, said something along the lines of "a player is coached to never attempt a three point shot with his foot on the line." Van Gundy was seemingly forgetting, of course, that if a player's foot is on the three point line when attempting a shot, he is in fact attempting a two point shot and not a three point shot. But this was relatively minor, and I was content to leave well enough alone until the last five tenths of a second came around.
Well, after Lewis was fouled, Van Gundy said without hesitation that no matter what Lewis should miss the second of his upcoming free throws intentionally. Now this was among the stupidest things I've heard Van Gundy say during these playoffs, though it does have competition. And let me paint the entire picture so that you can get a fuller picture for why this analysis was so stupid.
- After Bryant's foul, two tenths of a second remained on the clock.
- The Lakers had no timeouts (and I absolutely abhor this word as I think that it should more properly be times-out) remaining.
- Without any times-out remaining, the Lakers could not advance the ball to midcourt after a made free throw.
- NBA rules do not allow for a player to catch and shoot a ball with under three tenths of second remaining.
- With under three tenths of a second remaining, the only score that can be made (barring a foul of some sort prior to inbounding the ball) is a tip in attempt.
- If Lewis did make the second free throw, the Magic would be ahead by at least three points.
- Assuming the Magic were up by three points, the Lakers would have had to tip in a three point basket off of a pass launched from underneath the Magic's basket to tie the game.
- Assuming the Magic were up by four points, the Lakers would have had to tip in a three point basket off of a pass launched from underneath the Magic's basket and get fouled in the process to have a chance at tying the game.
So what happened? Well, it seems that Jeff's brother Stan, the coach of the Magic, obviously does not subscribe to the dumbass strategies of his younger brother as he evidently did not instruct Lewis to miss the second free throw. Lewis made both free throws and the Magic won the game by four. (The Lakers simply inbounded the ball and allowed the last two tenths of a second to expire.)
Jeff Van Gundy is a poor analyst in my mind because it almost seems as if he has these pre-programmed strategies in his mind that he will blurt out without actually taking the time to rationally consider the scenarios. If he had truly rationally thought about the scenario with two tenths of a second remaining, he would have realized that it was (currently) humanly impossible for the Lakers to win game three at that point (absent a foolish foul of course) if Lewis made the second free throw. (If someone really, really wants me to go over the physics of this, I can certainly do so in another post.) But Jeff Van Gundy knows basketball strategy. Good call Jeff!