In early February, the Lakers ran out of players in an odd win at Cleveland over the Cavaliers, 119-108.
On Thursday, Joe Borgia, the NBA's vice president of referee operations, gave his perspective (via NBA TV) on the strange final minutes that saw Lakers center Robert Sacre finishing the game despite collecting his sixth personal foul.
"We have to have five players on the court at all times," Borgia said. "If there are no available substitutes to come in the game, the player who fouls out has to remain in the game"
The Lakers started the game short-handed, with Kobe Bryant, Jordan Hill, Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks all out with injuries. Nick Young bruised his knee during the game. Jordan Farmar was lost to leg cramps and Chris Kaman fouled out.
Steve Nash (nerve root irritation) was resting on the second night of a back-to-back, but was technically on the team's active roster.
When Sacre fouled out, Coach Mike D'Antoni didn't have anyone available to replace him, so the second-year center remained in the game. The Lakers were assessed a technical foul.
Nash's presence complicated matters, given he was technically an eligible player.
"That turned this play upside down," said Borgia. "Steve Nash was on the active list. He was not on the bench all night in uniform."
While Nash rushed to get dressed in his uniform in the confusion following Sacre's sixth foul, D'Antoni told the officials that Nash wasn't able to play because of injury.
"We stayed status quo, even though Nash did come out" in uniform, Borgia said. "It's very, very unusual. I've never seen it before."
Had Sacre committed another foul in the game, the team would have been charged with another technical -- but he lasted the final minutes without another infraction.
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