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Driving the Lane

Hips, knees and elbows line the passage to the hoop

Posted: Tuesday February 20, 2007 1:37PM; Updated: Tuesday February 20, 2007 1:37PM
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Cuttino Mobley (#5) of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Cuttino Mobley (#5) of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
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ELBOW MAN

Cuttino Mobley, Clippers guard
"I expect a hard foul," he says. "Guys smack you up so that you won't go back in." How does Mobley protect himself? "My elbows. You swing your elbows toward their face to back them off. When I was with Houston, I caught [the Spurs'] Tim Duncan with a dunk and hurt my elbow. Coach had told us not to go in there because we kept getting blocked, but I had to test [Duncan] once more."

GIANT KILLER

Willie Green, 76ers guard
"Driving the lane is making it in the NBA," says the 6'3" Green. "For a moment the lane's wide open. Next thing you know, two seven-footers come out of nowhere. It can be scary. You're up there with giants." Giants, Green cautions, can be dangerous ("When you jump high, you're vulnerable; it's easy to get pushed") and rude ("When they block your shot, they'll say, 'Get that blank out of here'").

ANALYZE THIS

Matt Harpring, Jazz swingman
He takes an analytic approach to his lane ventures. "If a shot blocker's underneath, you might hold up, pull up for a jumper, but if there's not a shot blocker, you attack," says Harpring. "You read the defense. It's like the triple option in football. You run the play, but you don't know which way you're going to go. You counter what they do, and [when you attack] you never think about getting hurt."

STRIKE FIRST

Joel Przybilla, Blazers center
"You have to anticipate what you're in for ... [and] hit them first," says Przybilla, who adds that the toughest guy to drive on is 7'2", 260-pound Rocket Dikembe Mutombo. "He's so long, and he anticipates well. He's a little dirty; you have to have that." Przybilla's worst moment in the lane? Trying to block a shot: He got kneed in the groin and missed three weeks. "It's a man's league," he says.

HIGH FLIER

Dwyane Wade, Heat guard
He has a tendency to soar through the lane. "Everything slows down," Wade says. "You're hoping you don't get hurt when you land. Sometimes you pop up; you want to let them know they [can't] hurt you. But sometimes you want to sit and rest a minute." Coach Pat Riley prefers Wade upright: "He gets in the habit of falling when he doesn't have to -- and not getting back on defense. That has cost us."

DUNK KING

Ronnie Price, Kings guard
His Nov. 22 drive to the hoop ended with a lefty slam over Utah's Carlos Boozer that electrified Arco Arena, perhaps the dunk of the year. "I saw a seam," Price says. "[Boozer] slid over, but I had such a head of steam, I had to go for it. He didn't jump. If he would've caught me with more contact, I wouldn't have made it." Price's driving philosophy? "Get the defense off-balance, [then] attack."

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