Posted February 06, 2014

Lakers trigger rare technical foul rule with injuries, foul outs in win over Cavaliers

Ben Golliver, Chris Kaman, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, Mike D'Antoni, Robert Sacre
(David Liam Kyle/Getty Images)

Steve Blake was one of only five Lakers left standing at the end of a Wednesday night game against the Cavaliers. (David Liam Kyle/Getty Images)

Thanks to a host of injuries and multiple disqualifications due to fouls, the Lakers triggered a rarely-used NBA rule for failing to have five eligible players during their 119-108 victory over the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Wednesday.

Let’s unpack the carnage piece by piece.

Although L.A. has 14 players on its roster, coach Mike D’Antoni had only eight players available on Wednesday because Kobe Bryant (knee), Pau Gasol (groin), Jodie Meeks (ankle), Jordan Hill (neck) and Xavier Henry (knee) were all out injured, and Steve Nash (back/nerves) was being held out for rest because the Lakers were on the second night of a back-to-back. The Lakers did have a 15th man on their roster earlier this week, but the team opted to part ways with Manny Harris after his second 10-day contract expired.

D’Antoni’s rotation kept dwindling from there, shrinking from eight men down to seven when Nick Young suffered a knee injury during the second quarter and did not return. The number of available Lakers was then reduced from seven to five when Chris Kaman fouled out early in the fourth quarter and Jordan Farmar suffered a leg cramp later in the period. Then, disaster struck. With no available reserve players, Robert Sacre picked up his sixth foul, which would usually trigger a disqualification, at the 3:31 mark of the fourth quarter.

Time for four-on-five, right? Not quite. NBA teams are not allowed to take the court with less than five players, so a little-known rule came into effect.

Rule No. 3, Section I of the league’s rulebook states: “No team may be reduced to less than five players. If a player in the game receives his sixth personal foul and all substitutes have already been disqualified, said player shall remain in the game and shall be charged with a personal and team foul. A technical foul also shall be assessed against his team. All subsequent personal fouls, including offensive fouls, shall be treated similarly. All players who have six or more personal fouls and remain in the game shall be treated similarly.”

The referees therefore allowed Sacre to remain in the game and correctly assessed a technical foul to the Lakers and awarded a free throw to the Cavaliers following his sixth foul. The second-year big man managed to play the rest of the game without picking up another foul so no further damage was done by L.A.’s lack of eligible bodies. The Lakers were leading 111-101 at the time of Sacre’s final foul and were able to hang on for their first victory since Jan. 19, snapping a seven-game losing streak.

“I’ve never seen this situation before,” Gasol wrote on Twitter. “Did anybody know about this rule!?”

At one point late in the third quarter, Kaman could be seen fully stretched out on the Lakers’ otherwise empty bench.

During the game’s closing minutes, Nash briefly looked like he would enter the game, despite the plan to sit him out. Instead, D’Antoni stayed the course by continuing to play Sacre.

“It was interesting to say the least,” D’Antoni said of his late-game predicament, according to Lakers.com.

Making the Lakers’ victory all the more remarkable? Steve Blake registered a triple-double  (11 points on 2-for-7 shooting, 10 rebounds and 15 assists) even though he was suffering from a ruptured ear drum during L.A.’s loss to Minnesota on Tuesday.

Ryan Kelly scored a career-high 26 points (on 8-for-16 shooting) and added six rebounds in 42 minutes for the Lakers, who led by as many as 29 points before their second half war of attrition. Wesley Johnson added 20 points (on 8-for-15 shooting) and nine rebounds.

C.J. Miles led the Cavaliers with a game-high 27 points (on 7-for-15 shooting), three rebounds and three assists. Anderson Varejao chipped in 15 points (on 7-for-16 shooting), 13 rebounds and five assists in a losing effort. Cleveland finished the game with starters Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Luol Deng on the bench.

L.A. improved to 17-32 with the win and will have one day off before they visit Philadelphia to play the Sixers on Friday. Cleveland dropped to 16-33 with the loss.

Bottom image via @NBArocksstc

23 comments
joeytad2010
joeytad2010

The Warriors made history on this and it happened to them twice on the same year.  They were coached then by Don Nelson and it was Curry's rookie year.

JohnnyNacho
JohnnyNacho

You mean to tell me players that weren't dressed to play didn't make the trip to Cleveland?  or did they just skip to the next town on the road trip.....weird b/c Cleveland is so cool.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

At least we get an original story. Now that the NFL is done they will have to come up with a lot like this to keep everyone interested.

rentistoohigh
rentistoohigh

Seems at that point


LAKERS FORFEIT  ...should have been the rule


(since risking further injury to expensive NBA property---Steve Nash --- is out of the question)



mjw149
mjw149

Holy guacamole.  The carnage is epic.  Jerry's been gone for just one year!

LanceS
LanceS

I guess if you have as bad a team as the Lakers, about the only season highlights you can hope for are those associated with statistical oddities.

Bearsclone
Bearsclone

How bad is Cleveland, to lose to a Lakers team with literally no bench?

Jonathon
Jonathon

If you are Cleveland, how do you not go at Sacre each time down?  How was it possible that he didn't pick up any more fouls, which would have been a technical each time?



BostonDanA2
BostonDanA2

"The Lakers were leading 111-101 at the time of Sacre’s final foul and they managed to hang on for their first victory since Jan. 19, snapping a seven-game winning streak."

Huh?  How does one snap a winning streak by winning??? And are the Lakers "Winning" by losing (in the spirit of Charlie Sheen....)

RichLGerhold
RichLGerhold

So basically the Cavs couldn't beat an injured lakers team with most of their stars missing, and no subs. Pathetic.

TheCantankerousNut
TheCantankerousNut

Do the Lakers even have trainers? These guys shouldn't be going down like they are..

MarkBritten
MarkBritten

So the Lakers were technically classing Nash as injured then? Because surely otherwise this rule wouldn't have had to apply and they would have forced Nash to play?

SandersonKramer
SandersonKramer

I'm surprised when the Lakers had a comfortable lead that Scare didn't deliberately commit a foul so he'd be in the NBA books with a record that would probably never be broken, most fouls in a game! That would have been his only chance to make an NBA record. Too bad

lavudyar
lavudyar

@Bearsclone  I was wondering exactly that. What with the Lakers racing to the #1 pick, how do the Cavs lose in that situation?

donniejohnson4
donniejohnson4

@Jonathon  Because Anderson Varejao doesn't exactly possess an impressive set of post moves, and the Lakers weren't switching pick and rolls.