Martell Webster's decision to drive to the rim instead of trying a potential game-tying three in the closing seconds wasn't the reason the Wolves lost last night. We all know that. Rather, it was about the 25th frustrating play on a night brimming with them against a depleted Denver team. It wasn't even one of the most frustrating things that happened in that game.
What happened, per Jerry Zgoda:
Afterward, [Webster] said he was aware of the score and clock and said he wanted to be "aggressive" by driving to the rim in an attempt either to draw a foul and a three-point play or score with enough time left so the Wolves could foul the Nuggets yet again and take their chances with Denver at the foul line. The most revealing part of his postgame interview was when he said it could have been a "mental thing," implying his missing an open three earlier might have convinced him to pass up the shot and go to the hole. Rick Adelman seemed mystified afterward, saying coaches had told players in the timeout right before Webster stole the ball that if the Wolves were to get the ball back, they needed a three, not two. Webster said "most people" probably would have pulled up and shot the three, and he said that's probably what he'd do again if given the chance. When asked about Webster's decision, Kevin Love said, "He should have pulled up. We had talked about that. It's one of those things probably where he went mind blank for a second. We knew what we needed to do: Get a steal, pull up for a three. One of those things where he just messed up."
So really, we know what Martell was supposed to do, and he knows what he should have done. But we also know that if he had pulled off the improbable -- getting contact and earning a three-point play to tie the game -- he would be a hero this morning. How do we know this? Well, it happened last month at Williams Arena.
With time winding down against Illinois and the Gophers trailing by three, Austin Hollins passed up a chance at a three-pointer and instead drove to the basket. He made the shot, was fouled, hit the free throw, and the Gophers won in overtime -- saving their season, albeit temporarily it would seem. The play -- unorthodox, for sure -- is probably among the top highlights of Minnesota's season. It was fair to question the logic at the time, but nobody in maroon and gold was complaining about or questioning the result.
Should Martell have shot the three? Yes. Would he have been a hero anyway if his twisted logic had worked out as well as it did for Hollins? Yes.