The Los Angeles Lakers were seemingly down to four players, but beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 119-108, with help from an obscure rule that kept Robert Sacre in Wednesday’s game after he picked up his sixth personal foul.
The Lakers started with only eight players in uniform, lost Nick Young and Jordan Farmar and then Chris Kaman and Sacre. Were it not for the hardly used rule, the Lakers would have had just four eligible, healthy players. Strange but true.
But referee Jason Phillips informed them that Sacre could stay on the court despite picking up his sixth foul on a drive by CJ Miles with 3:32 to play. The only remaining Lakers were already on the court—Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly, Steve Blake and Kendall Marshall —and a team cannot drop to four players if there are no other options.
Sacre was allowed to keep playing, a technical foul was assessed for the infraction and Cleveland made the free throw. The Lakers were ahead at the time of the foul, 111-101.
“That was the craziest game I’ve ever seen,” Kaman, an 11-year veteran, said.
Something like this hadn’t happened since Devean George picked up a sixth foul but was allowed to keep playing for Golden State in 2010 against Portland, according to STATS.
Farmar’s return was out of the question after he left because of leg cramps with 9:39 to play.
“The longer I played, the worse I felt,” he said after compiling 21 points and eight assists in his first game since Dec. 31.
Said Sacre: “We had no idea what was going to happen.”
Steve Nash was technically active for the game, but did not suit up because it was the second night of back-to-back contests. Someone fished him out of the locker room, though, and he appeared near the bench in his game jersey.
Kaman laughed. He had untied his shoes and was reclining on the end of the bench after fouling out with 8:29 to play.
“What are you going to do, Steve?” Kaman later recalled saying.
Coach Mike D’Antoni said he did not want to play Nash, who will be 40 on Friday and played his first game Tuesday in almost three months.
“That would be unfair to him,” D’Antoni said. “And Farmar could have just stood out there somewhere, but it wouldn’t have been the best thing.”
All that and the Lakers ended a seven-game winning streak, handling the Cavs in Cleveland. They made 18 three-pointers, a team record for a regulation game, on 37 attempts. Blake finished with his second career triple-double (11 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists) in only his second game back from a two-month layoff because of a torn elbow ligament.
Kelly had a career-high 26 points but now the Lakers’ injury watch turns to Young, who hurt his knee in the second quarter after being fouled by Miles on a fastbreak attempt.