You’re the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks and were up by as much as 15 points with only eight minutes left in the game when your opponent begins clawing their way back into the game.
In a back-and-forth type of contest where your team has come back from a 14-point deficit, and is starting to unravel and appear to be on their way to letting a sure win fall through the cracks, doesn't a timeout seem like the most appropriate thing to do if you are the head coach? Not if you are Mike Woodson.
No, instead, you do your best impression of the great “ Zen master” Phil Jackson and let your team figure out how to dig themselves out of the hole.
Only one problem—you are not one of the league’s all-time best coaches, and your team is not one of the league’s all-time greatest franchises in the Los Angeles Lakers.
Instead of calling a timeout and helping his players figure out how to break through the Mavericks’ zone defense, Woodson just stood there on the sideline with his arms folded across his chest.
Not only did he just stand there looking like a leaf on a log, he was so unaware of what was going around him that he gave Jason Kidd an opportunity to make him look like a complete fool.
With under two minutes left in the game, the Hawks, still with a two-point lead, watched as their head coach made his attempt at making SportsCenter’s not Top Ten list.
Kidd was pushing the ball up the court when he noticed that Woodson was a little too far out on the court than he should be. Kidd, being the veteran that he is, ran right towards Woodson, and the two shared a small nudge.
The impact was enough to knock Woodson off balance, and enough for the officials to issue a technical foul on Woodson for interference. That sent Nowitzki to the foul line, where he made the free-throw attempt, and, seconds later, Kidd nailed a three to give the Mavericks back the lead.
From here, the game did go into overtime, so Woodson’s mishap did not cost his team yet, but it clearly gave the Mavericks back the momentum.
Also, it was like Woodson and the Hawks were suddenly frozen in a dazed and confused state of mind, while Dallas outscored the Hawks 12-4 in the overtime and left Atlanta with the win.
Kidd was a Hawks-killer in more ways than one. He finished with his first triple double this season—19 points, 16 rebounds, and 17 assists—to lead his team to victory.
The Mavericks were able to get back into the game when they switched to a zone on defense in the fourth quarter, and outscored the Hawks 34-23 in the period. Atlanta could not penetrate through the Mavericks zone, and was forced to keep settling for outside shots. They didn’t fall.
Maybe if Woodson had decided to call even a quick 20-second timeout the Hawks could have at least tried to figure out how to get through the zone defense. Instead, he let his team keep throwing up bricks while on their way to letting a big win slip away.
Thanks Mike. I only wonder what you will do next for an encore.