NBA players are so talented, though, that the play still has a good chance. In fact, several (including the New Jersey Nets' Sam Cassel and the Lakers' Nick Van Exel) excel in the clutch because they can create something positive out of offensive chaos. "Put it this way," says Carlesimo. "I'm more nervous when I have to make a stop on the last sequence than when I have to get a score."
There are several players who aren't All-Stars but have earned reputations for being reliable in the clutch. The best example may be Houston's Mario Elie, who at the end of a game often sets up on the wing on the side away from the ball, waiting for the defense to double-team one of the Rockets' stars, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley or Clyde Drexler. When the ball gets to him, he doesn't hesitate. "I want the shot," he says. "Sometimes it's not strategy, not X's and O's, that makes the difference. It's whether a player really wants to take the shot. The only way you'll succeed is if you're not afraid of what will happen if you fail."
:01 The Shot
The moment of truth. Your player goes up for the shot and, if you are like most coaches and players, there is a sense of relief as the ball is released. The game is literally out of your hands now. "You've worked in practice, talked it over in the huddle, run the play and gotten open for the shot," says Elie. "Once you let it go, all you can do is hope."
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