The Los Angeles Lakers had a historic four-man win last night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, after having to succumb to one of the rarest NBA league rules. It is no secret the Lakers are having a bizarre season, compiling only 16 wins and having extensive injuries; it only seemed appropriate that last night they brought home their seventeenth win, after breaking franchise records and playing a player who already fouled out of the game.
The Los Angeles Lakers started the game with only 8 players. The starting five consisted of guards Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar, and forwards Wesley Johnson and rookie Ryan Kelly, all anchored by center Robert Sacre. The Lakers only had three reserves available for the game, with center Chris Kaman, point-guard Kendall Marshall, and shooting-guard Nick Young. The Lakers had Kobe Bryant, Jordan Hill, Pau Gasol, Xavier Henry, Jodie Meeks and Steve Nash all disabled for their injury reports. The bench was so desolated by injuries, Chris Kaman was spotted in the third-quarter spread out laying horizontally taking up 5 bench seats. The team became even more decimated when sixth man Nick Young did not return to the second half with a knee injury.
The Lakers, with seven players, started the game with a shooting clinic, seemingly making every three-pointer they took. The Lakers compiled a 36 to 17 point lead after the first quarter, and a 70 to 49 point lead by the time they reached the half. The Lakers would control the tempo of the game for the majority of the first 3 quarters. However, the Cavaliers, without their all-star point-guard Kyrie Irving, who sat out the fourth quarter due to a coach’s decision, began to make a run at the Lakers late in the fourth, attacking the rim and moving the ball. The Cavs assault on the rim began to put the Laker’s big men in foul trouble, the premise to the Los Angeles Lakers historic four-man win.
With 8:29 to go in the fourth quarter, Laker center Chris Kaman was removed from the game after he committed his sixth foul on Cavs center Anderson Varajao. Along with Jordan Farmar and Nick Young, who were both ineligible to return because of their injuries, the Lakers had their remaining five players on the court for the rest of the game whether they liked it or not. The situation would escalate when Laker center Robert Sacre committed his sixth foul against C.J. Miles with 3:31 left in the game by standing in the restricted area, warranting the blocking foul.
Coaches and referees gathered at mid court to discuss the preceding minutes. Officials went to the rule book, relaying to the coaches rule 3I states “Each team shall consist of 5 players. No team may be reduced to less than five players. If a player in the game receives his 6th foul and all substitutes have been disqualified, said player shall remain in the game and shall be charged with a personal and a team foul. Technical foul also shall be assessed against the team.” The rule demands that if the player who is fouled out commits another foul, their team will receive a technical foul, giving the other team a free-throw and the ball.
The Los Angeles Lakers historic game win was not only a display of one of the NBA’s most rare officiating instances, it was also a record-breaking beyond the arc shooting performance by the team. The lakers compiled 18 three pointers in regulation, shooting 18 for 37 from beyond the arc, making for a new Lakers franchise record. The team, although seems likely they will miss the playoffs, has some of its star players beginning to return from injury and should make for a exciting rest of the season.
Editorial by Zane Foley