Los Angeles Lakers forward Robert Sacre picked up his sixth foul in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and in almost all situations, that would disqualify him from continuing to play.
But the Lakers didn’t have any players left on the bench because of injuries suffered earlier in the the game (L.A. began the night with only eight active players). With no one to replace Sacre, he was allowed to play under a seldom-used NBA rule.
League rules state that both teams must have five players on the court at all times. As a result, Sacre was forced to remain in the game with six personal fouls, but he picked up an automatic technical foul because of it. Here’s the full explanation from the official rule book.
“Each team shall consist of five players. 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 been disqualified, said player shall remain in the game and shall be charged with a personal and team foul. A technical foul shall also 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.”
Despite finishing the game with only four active players (plus a disqualified Sacre), the Lakers defeated the Cavaliers 119-108. Depending on your point of view, that’s a real impressive performance from Los Angeles, or an embarrassing one from Cleveland. It’s probably a bit of both.