Darvin Ham has preached defense all season long, but in the closing seconds of Lakers vs. Warriors Game 1, he practiced it.
With Jordan Poole wide open on the left wing of the court near the Lakers’ bench, Ham made sure that someone was going to get a hand up on a shot that could have tied the game at 115 with 9.1 seconds left:
Jarred Vanderbilt — who was maybe the defensive player of the game, if it wasn’t Anthony Davis — made the rotation and ultimately got a hand up, but the game ball may still have to go to Ham for making sure he executes the principles he emphasizes. Earlier in the game in a mic’d up segment, Ham could be heard telling his team to play defense with their hands up and don’t foul.
I’d say that one was flawlessly executed, coach. Way to lead by example.
However, before anyone freaks out, the angle above definitely is a bit deceptive. Ham was not actually THAT close to Poole:
Still, in a game that the Lakers won by the slimmest of margins, 117-112, anything could have made the difference between a heartbreaking collapse after allowing a 14-0 run late, and stealing a win to capture homecourt advantage from Golden State and claim a 1-0 series lead. Maybe Steve Kerr should have hustled more on Vanderbilt’s corner three late if the Warriors wanted to win?
Now, I know what you’re still asking: Is this allowed? Honestly, this blogger isn’t 100% sure. I’m positive it’s not encouraged by the league, but the most I could find in fines for anything similar was when a Nets assistant coach was docked $10,000 for deflecting a pass intended for Kyle Kuzma in a game vs. the Wizards, while the franchise was fined $25,000.
Darvin certainly didn’t do anything close to THAT level, so it seems unlikely he or the team will be fined for this. But even if they were, if that’s the cost for a clutch defensive play to make Poole flinch in even the slightest way and miss, the Lakers will surely take it.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.