Derrel Johnson, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — After the Washington Wizards were battered and bruised by the Brooklyn Nets for the first 43 minutes of Friday night’s Nets victory, Wizards coach Randy Wittman employed a desperate strategy with his team trailing by 15 points.
The Wizards began intentionally fouling Evans, banking on the fact that he would miss more free-throws than he would make, giving the Wizards an opportunity to close the gap and pull off a comeback.
In the end, the experiment gave us a very touching moment between Evans and Nets fans.
After missing six-straight free throws, the crowd at Barclays Center began chanting “Reggie, Reggie” for Brooklyn Nets power forward Reggie Evans. He then hit two free throws as the crowd erupted once more, inciting the elongated “Brooklyn” chant that has become a staple of the team’s home arena.
The strategy, though, could have worked if the Wizards rebounded the ball and capitalized on their own offensive opportunities. Evans ended the game 5-of-16 from the free-throw line and only shot 3-of-10 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.
Aside from that, Evans grabbed a career-high 24 rebounds and notched a double-double by scoring 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting from the field.
Moving forward, the question now becomes whether or not opposing teams will utilize the same strategy against the Nets and whether or not it would be successful.
When asked about whether he would leave Evans in the game if that strategy were used in the future, Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo replied “If he’s got 11 points and 24 rebounds he’s probably going to be in there…If he’s splitting them, I don’t mind.” Carlesimo may be faced with a tough decision with Evan’s free throw shooting, as missing six in a row in the fourth quarter—which Evans did—is something that might inspire other NBA coaches to use a similar tactic.
Wittman cemented that with his comments after the game.
“Reggie Evans was missing free throws,” he said. “It gave us a chance to stop the clock by fouling him. He goes 5-of-16, so I thought it was a good strategy to go to.”
Evans talked about the crowd and the strategy of fouling him after the game.
“It was exciting. I was happy. I was smiling on the inside and stuff but I was enjoying the moment whether I missed or I made it.” When asked why he thought the crowd was chanting, Reggie took it as a sign of support.
“They just wanted to see me make it,” he said. “They know I’m a poor free-throw shooter, so it’s almost like instead of knocking a person down you may as well pick him up because at the end of the day you want to win. Our fans were turned up tonight.”
On Friday, Reggie Evans had a spectacular game, and was acknowledged by the Brooklyn Nets fans at Barclays Center. He does need to improve his free-throw shooting in those situations, as a better team in a closer game would capitalize on six-straight free throw misses that may lead to a crushing defeat.
Moving ahead, this is something that should concern Carlesimo, because Evans is the team’s best rebounder but may find himself in situations where he’s hurting his team more than helping them.
Rest assured, someone will employ Hack-a-Reggie, and don’t be surprised if it ends up working.
And until then, Nets fans should hope that Evans continues to work on his free-throws.