Monday November 18th, 2013

The relationship between showmanship and utility in the NBA is often tenuous at best, with one often coming clearly at the expense of the other. Yet there are those rare, exceptional occasions in which the two are happily married in an aesthetically thrilling and pragmatically sound highlight. Pistons guard Brandon Jennings, oddly enough, was the author of such a play on Sunday night, when he threw a lob to Andre Drummond off the backboard to get the best of two closing Laker defenders.

On first viewing, this might seem like a showy play made for its own sake. But consider the circumstances: Jennings, an unremarkable finisher on his own, has seen his path to the rim cut off by the Jodie Meeks; Drummond, for his part, is running more or less in stride with the Lakers' Steve Blake, who stands in the way of any basic pass; a conventional lob is certainly possible, though could force Drummond to slow down as he gauges its trajectory, thus creating more of a possibility for either Blake or Meeks to foul a 16.7-percent free throw shooter. Instead, Jennings used the backboard as a vehicle, flinging a pass in Drummond's direction without compromising the big man's speed or trajectory. That's a tough pass to make, but Jennings lined it up perfectly to ensure his team -- and his teammate -- an easy two.

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