Breaking Down the Tyreke Evans Game Winner

Published: January 19, 2015

Last night, after Tyreke Evans won the game for the  New Orleans Pelicans, I saw a lot of people saying on Twitter saying it wasn’t a good look. That Evans ran into four  Toronto Raptors’ defenders. And that it was kind of lucky.

I’ve given Evans a lot of flak this season over what I call his ‘circus shots.’ You know, those drives to the rim where he runs into three or four defenders, contorts his body, and puts up a shot when it probably would have been better to pass. Evans regularly makes those shots and is one of the reasons he keeps attempting them. But last night’s game winner was not a circus shot. After watching it again let’s break down why this was a great isolation play.

The play starts out with Evans killing time above the three-point line with the rest of the Pelicans along the baseline. It’s pretty clear at this point that a Tyreke isolation is in the cards. Despite the obvious, the Raptors have Greivis Vasquez guarding Evans, and Kyle Lowry on Eric Gordon. It’s a mismatch in favor of the Pelicans. Vasquez has good height at 6-6 (compared to the 6 foot Lowry), but, as Pelicans’ fans know, just doesn’t have the foot speed to keep up with Evans.

The next action is Alexis Ajinca coming up above the three-point line. Anjica has no range from there is this is designed to pull a defender away from the rim to give Evans more space. Before Ajinca cuts up, Asik comes and sets a pick to free him and try and force Valanciunas to switch. It doesn’t work but the goal is to take the tallest player for the Raptors out of the paint.


As Evans starts his drive to the right side the three circled defenders are more or less taken out of the play. Amir Johnson is chasing Evans from behind, DeMar DeRozan is stuck guarding Jimmer Fredette, and Valanciunas needs to stay on Asik to prevent an easy dump off pass. Lowry is the only defender who can really provide help to Vasquez, but he needs to stay and guard Eric Gordon to prevent a kickout for an open three. A pass cross court to Jimmer is probably unrealistic, but a short pass to Gordon is a very real possibility. Lowry knows this and can only cheat in slightly.


Evans driving to the right is important. Since he is right handed it creates a little more room between the ball and defenders to the left. No one is really in position to help Vasquez. To further create more room to operate you can see Evans put his shoulder into Vasquez to push off slightly.


And here is when Evans runs into four defenders. Vasquez can’t defend it, Johnson is coming from too far behind, DeRozan is being blocked by Asik. That leaves Valanciunas as the only one who can potentially make a play on the ball. But Evans shoots from the right and that gives him the little room he needs to put the ball out of reach. Asik had been standing on the left side of the paint the entire time to keep Valanciunas there and out of position. And if the look isn’t there for Evans, he has Gordon wide open for a catch and shoot.



You can see below that no one has a chance to touch the ball. Evans knows to put the ball high off the glass for the win. Should he miss, Ajinca is booking it to the rim for the putback. All the defenders going up for the shot and moving to Evans takes them out of position for a rebound. If Evans misses and Ajinca times his jump well, the Pelicans can win on the second chance opportunity.


Credit where credit is due. Evans takes his circus shots, but he also knows how to drive effectively. When the game was on the line he beat his defender and took an incredibly smart shot. Credit Monty as well for having Ajinca come up top and for keeping Gordon in the corner. And all without Anthony Davis on the court. Now hopefully the team can keep it up against the Knicks this afternoon.



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