Once a player commits their sixth foul in the NBA, that usually means they’re done for the rest of the game. But thanks to a little-known league rule, that wasn’t the case for Los Angeles Lakers center Robert Sacre Wednesday night.
When Sacre committed his sixth foul with 3:32 left in the game, the injury-depleted Lakers were down to only five players and had no choice but to leave him in the game.
NBA rules mandate that each team has to have five players on the court at all times. So with no other options left on the bench, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni was told by officials that he could leave Sacre on the floor and that every additional foul on the center would result in a technical. The Lakers were then assessed a technical foul.
“That was just crazy,” Sacre told the Associated Press. “When I got my sixth foul, I was just like, ‘Oh, dang!’ Then I got to come back in, so I thought it was something special. I didn’t know what was going on.”
The Lakers, who entered the game with only eight players, managed to hold off the Cavs and end a seven-game losing streak in a 119-108 victory.
On the second night of back-to-back games, the Lakers entered the game without Kobe Bryant (knee), Pau Gasol (groin), Xavier Henry (knee), Jordan Hill (cervical strain), Jodie Meeks (ankle), and Steve Nash (rest).
Then in the first half of Wednesday night’s game, Nick Young left the game with a knee injury. Jordan Farmar suffered a calf injury and was unable to finish the game. Then Chris Kaman fouled out early in the fourth quarter, leaving the Lakers with five available players: Steve Blake, Kendall Marshall, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly, and Sacre.
The Lakers’ situation was so dire that Nash, who was on the bench in street clothes, slipped into his uniform late in the game. D’Antoni said he had no plan to put Nash in the game.
“That was, by far, one of the strangest games I’ve ever seen,” D’Antoni said.