Shorthanded Lakers Beat Cleveland Despite Lonely Bench
The injury-ravaged Lakers pulled off an interesting NBA novelty on Wednesday night in Cleveland, beating the Cavaliers 119-108 while ending the game with a player who had already fouled out still on the floor.
It's always great fun to unearth obscure rules, and this one doesn’t appear very often.
Los Angeles entered the game with eight healthy bodies, which doesn’t provide much depth on the road. This number was depleted further during the game by two more injuries and a foul out, leaving the Lakers with five available players in the fourth quarter.
This scenario is peculiar enough, but things got really interesting when someone named Robert Sacre -- a Gonzaga product -- fouled out with less than four minutes left in the game. The fact that Sacre was even on the floor is a testament to just how desperate the Lakers are for live bodies while waiting for Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and the gang to return.
At this point, everyone in the building likely assumed the Lakers would continue with four players. But alas, this was not to be.
Perhaps we should consult Section I, Rule No. 3 of the NBA rulebook for clarification.
“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.”
I am as puzzled as you.
I would imagine even the most keen observer of the Association may not have been aware of such a rule. Obviously, this situation does not present itself often, but for future reference, this is what goes down.
The Lakers had managed to build a large lead early in the game, despite being shorthanded, so this wackiness did not cause much harm and they were able to hold on for the win. Actually, Steve Nash was present and technically available to play, but the Lakers had decided to rest him on the second night of consecutive road games due to his lingering back issues.
So boys and girls, I hope you enjoyed this tiny morsel of professional basketball rules minutia.
In the future, please be prepared to quote this rule verbatim if called upon.
That is all.