Davis-Lin pick and roll effective already

ONTARIO, Calif. -- The play starts the same way every time: Jeremy Lin dribbling atop the 3-point arc, patiently waiting for a screen from Ed Davis.

As Lin's yo-yoing lulls his defender, Davis flashes up and sets a pick. More often than not, Davis will go left, toward Lin's right side, which allows Lin to gain traction and comfortably attack with his dominant hand.

Depending on how the defense reacts, Davis and Lin will usually do one of two things.

"You just have to read it," Lin said after the Los Angeles Lakers' 94-86 preseason win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Arena. "It depends what the defense is doing. Sometimes [Davis] has got to get out of there quick. Sometimes he can meander around behind for a pop."

If Davis' defender comes up to trap Lin, or "show" with a hard hedge, Davis will slip the screen and dart to the rim. Lin can then pull up for a midrange jumper, hit Davis with a bounce pass or find the open man on the weak side as an opposing defender likely collapses into the paint to stop Davis from scoring undeterred.

But if Davis' defender drops back and hangs around the free throw line, Lin has the speed and ballhandling ability to pick up momentum off the dribble and blaze past the slower big man into the paint. From there, he can lay the ball in, dish to a trailing Davis or kick out to a weakside spot-up shooter (usually Wayne Ellington or Wesley Johnson).

The effectiveness of the game's bread-and-butter play best materialized in the fourth quarter with 3:22 left.

As Lin reset the offense on the right side of the floor after a Roscoe Smith offensive rebound, Davis came up on Lin's right side and screened his defender, C.J. McCollum. After taking McCollum out of the play, Davis rolled to the rim, and his defender, Meyers Leonard, stepped up to contest Lin.

The outcome was predictable, yet virtually unstoppable.

Lin threw a soft lob with his right hand and Davis flushed it home, giving the Lakers a commanding 88-75 lead with 3:16 left.

"I love playing with J-Lin," Davis said. "He's a pick-and-roll guy; that's what he wants to do. He gets into the lane. I'm just trying to get him open. He can take the jump shot or he can find me at the rim. He's always looking for me, so whenever we're out on the floor together I make sure I get him open and set good screens for him."

The feeling of appreciation and on-court synergy is mutual.

"Ed does his job in terms of just getting me open and then rolling hard and finding the open gap," Lin said. "Ed is one of those guys where, if he comes and sets 20 pick-and-rolls, and the weak side is there 20 times in a row and he doesn't get the ball, he'll still continue to do his job and get me open and roll to the right spot. That's just unselfishness and him being smart."

The success of the Davis-Lin pairing should come as no surprise, as both players have thrived within the confines of their current roles before.

Lin has long been an elite pick-and-roll practitioner -- "Linsanity" wouldn't have been possible if not for the New York Knicks' spread pick-and-roll offense allowing him to leverage his quickness to slice to the basket.

"Jeremy Lin has shown in his career that he's very effective in the pick-and-roll no matter who he's with," Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "He penetrates well, he can make midrange shots and he sets up shots for other people. For him, it all starts at the point of attack. If he can create an advantage, he causes problems."

Meanwhile, Davis is a quality finisher, finding ways to cut behind defenses into open space, crouching down with his hands up, ready to explode at the rim.

"He's been good," Lakers coach Byron Scott said. "He scores around the basket. He's athletic enough to get the shots. … He gives us a little bit of a different dimension."

Both players have played integral roles off the bench and bring irreplaceable skill sets to not only the second unit, but the Lakers roster. Davis is the team's best rim protector and finisher. Lin is the only perimeter player capable of consistently breaking down his defender and getting into the heart of the defense.

The Lakers' rotation has lacked any sort of consistency this preseason, as injuries have derailed any hope of repetition. The Davis-Lin high pick-and-roll has been one of the few constant bright spots, though. It has been a storyline after each game they've played together and is arguably the Lakers' most dangerous offensive weapon.

Which brings about the next, more important question: Would the duo be more effective in the starting lineup?