Generally speaking, it's good to a dedicated enough professional that you don't dawdle when it's time to do your job; the world needs more people who prefer a proactive approach over procrastination. Sometimes, though, being Johnny on the Spot can prove hazardous to your health — like, for example, when you're a ball/towel boy busily wiping up some perspiration on the basketball court as the action heads down to the other end of the floor, only to find the run of play stampeding back your way thanks to a quick turnover.
In a situation like that — which, coincidentally, took place late in the fourth quarter of Monday's matchup between the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors at Barclays Center — you've got to think fast and move faster. Look alive, kid:
"That is legitimate participation in the action," said YES Network play-by-play man Ian Eagle after reviewing the play ... and the more you watch it, the more you wonder if Raptors power forward Tyler Hansbrough might've found it legitimately distracting. From Devin Kharpertian of The Brooklyn Game:
If you watch the replay, it looks like Hansbrough hesitates, if only for a split-second, before ensuring that the ball boy won't get in his way. That hesitation may have helped Andray Blatche get back into the game [and contest the layup ...]
This wasn't even the ball boy's fault — he was just doing his job, like he always does. See a spot on the floor, mop it up so nobody slips on it and gets hurt. You don't expect to look up and see a six-foot-nine, 250-pound man barreling towards you with the ball in his hands, trying to give his team the lead in a game with playoff implications and three minutes left.
It's entirely possible that Hansbrough would've booted the layup anyway; there's a reason why Raptors HQ's Braedon Clark referred to Psycho T's jaunt as "a one-man fast break [...] that ended as you might expect it would." Still, though, it's kind of amazing that a towel-wielding arena employee's self-preservation instinct resulted in not only perhaps the most athletic play of the game (non-Terrence Ross division), but also a pretty critical stop in a game knotted at 90 with just over three minutes remaining.
It wasn't the determining factor, of course — the Raptors took leads twice over the next minute of game time before a huge 3-pointer by Paul Pierce gave the Nets a late lead, a costly turnover by Terrence Ross gave Brooklyn the chance to push a one-point advantage back to three with less than 30 seconds left, and the Nets hung on for a 101-97 victory that drew them within three games of Toronto for the Atlantic Division lead. It might've contributed a little bit, though, which is wild; it's rare that something as absurd as that dive was also winds up mattering. I guess when you tighten up on defense the way Brooklyn has in 2014 — Jason Kidd's squad is allowing 101.1 points per 100 possessions since Jan. 1, the fifth-best mark in the NBA, which has propelled the Nets to an Eastern Conference-best 22-9 record since New Year's Day — it's like you've got an extra defender on the floor at all times. Especially when you kind of do.
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