The Lakers won Wednesday night, which is news itself during an abysmal, injury-plagued season sans Kobe Bryant. How they beat the lowly Cavaliers, however, is what fans will remember most.
- They made a team-record 18 three-pointers. Yawn.
- They did it despite losing two more players to injuries. Ya-a-awn! Who cares? When’s spring football begin?
- They did it with a player who was allowed to continue playing despite fouling out with more than 3 minutes to play in the game. Huh?
Each team must have five players during an NBA game, so when Robert Sacre (he went to Gonzaga; I had to look it up) got his sixth foul with 3:32 to play, there was no room for Norman Dale my-team’s-on-the-floor “Hoosiers” theatrics. Enter a little-known NBA rule that allows a team to keep a player with a sixth personal foul out on the court, if that team has no other able-bodied players remaining on the bench. And if you haven’t noticed lately, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni has a very lonely bench.
(How desperate are the Lakers these days? Ryan Kelly – a Duke guy, no less – has been enjoying a basketball renaissance with Los Angeles this season and was last night’s high scorer with 26 points. Ryan Kelly? Again, WTF?)
Here’s the catch: If you’re forced to keep a player with a sixth personal foul on the floor, every subsequent personal foul he commits would also count as a technical foul. Lucky for the Lakers, Sacre didn’t commit another foul.
At one point last night Steve Nash, who had been recovering from several injuries and watched last night’s game in street clothes, trotted to the locker room to change into his uniform just in case he was needed. (D’Antoni said he had no intention of using him).
Another option was using Jordan Hill, who has been out with a strained neck, and just having him “stand in the corner.” (That’s what my coach used to tell me all the time).
It’s tough to get excited about the NBA when you’re convinced the league is fixed (thanks again for cancelling the Chris Paul trade, David Stern), your team is disintegrating and its owner is an incompetent boob. But every once in a while, this kind of fun weirdness – more unique to baseball than any other sport – reminds me why I picked up a basketball in the first place.