Mike Dunleavy was not in attendance for the Clippers' one-point loss to the Nuggets last night, as he was out of town attending a family funeral. That left the coaching duties to assistant Kim Hughes, who mostly did an excellent job of managing the game. Until the final possession, that is.
The Clippers found themselves down by a single point, and had gotten a rebound with 10 seconds left. Common sense would dictate that -- unless maybe Kobe Bryant or LeBron James was on your squad -- a timeout would be taken, and the coach would call a play to get his team a good look at a game-winning shot. Hughes elected to let his team play on their own, so the game ended with Marcus Camby shooting a three-pointer from straight away that barely drew iron, sending the Clippers to another loss.
After the game, Hughes was asked about the final possession, and he didn't seem to regret not calling a timeout in that situation; in fact, he doesn't believe in using that strategy.
"I did not want to call a timeout. I don't believe in that,'' assistant coach Kim Hughes said. "I'm kind of like [Jazz coach] Jerry Sloan in that. I think it's to your advantage to go in transition, without allowing them to get in a set defense."
OK, so then what happened?
"I thought Baron had a wonderful opportunity to penetrate, he chose not to, which is fine. Marcus was open. I don't think it was a great shot. I'm sure he doesn't think it was a great shot. Eric Gordon was wide open up top,'' Hughes said. "You can look back, and remember that you didn't call a timeout. If it was a situation where we should've called a timeout, I'll take the heat for that. But I don't believe in that."
Coach, this one isn't on Baron for "choosing not to penetrate." It's on you for not calling the timeout.
The Clippers are a team that rarely finds itself in a situation where they have a legitimate chance to win: at home, down by one, 10 seconds left. It may be okay in your personal basketball manifesto not to believe in a situational timeout there, but this isn't a philosophical question. It's a real game situation, and one that the Clips couldn't afford to go into without a plan. Marcus Camby has made exactly 13 three-pointers over his 12-year career. That's not what one would refer to as a high percentage shot. The team only needed one to tie and two to win; you're trying to say that you couldn't have drawn up anything to get them a better look?
Assistant coaches rarely get the opportunity to show what they can do when coaching an NBA game from start to finish. Kim Hughes showed that with the game on the line, he'd rather sit on the bench with his fingers crossed than call a timeout. Hope is not a strategy, my man. Sitting on your hands down the stretch when you're supposed to be in charge isn't something that's going to look good on your resume.