The Los Angeles Lakers left Robert Sacre on the court after he fouled out in the fourth quarter. Coach Mike D’Antoni felt it was the best move for his depleted team.
It’s been that kind of year for the short-handed Lakers.
Los Angeles lost two more players to injuries on Wednesday night and had to go to a little-known NBA rule to hold on for a 119-108 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
“That was, by far, one of the strangest games I’ve ever seen,” D’Antoni said.
Rookie Ryan Kelly scored a career-high 26 points and Steve Blake had his first career triple-double for Los Angeles, which snapped a seven-game losing streak. The Lakers set a franchise record for 3-pointers, going 18 for 37 from long range.
But Los Angeles’ first win in two weeks was overshadowed by a bizarre ending.
The Lakers had eight available players coming into the game. Then Nick Young twisted his left knee in the first half and Chris Kaman fouled out early in the fourth quarter.
When Jordan Farmar left with leg cramps in the final period, that put Los Angeles at five players.
Sacre committed his sixth foul with 3:32 remaining, but stayed in the game because D’Antoni was out of healthy bodies. The Lakers were assessed a technical foul.
Farmar scored 21 points and Wesley Johnson added 20 for the Lakers, who shot 53 percent from the field. Blake had 11 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds.
C.J. Miles led Cleveland with 27 points. All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving was taken out with 7:32 remaining in the third quarter and finished with 11 points as the Cavaliers lost their sixth consecutive game, tying their longest losing streak of the season.
Anderson Varejao was the only starter to play in the fourth quarter as Miles, Anthony Bennett, Matthew Dellavedova and Dion Waiters got the Cavaliers back in the game.
“They definitely deserved to be on the floor,” Irving said. “That second group did a heck of a job. You have to give a whole bunch of credit to them. If I were the coach, I would have played that second group as long as he did.”
“Maybe we can learn something from what that group did on the floor,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “They played the right way.”
The Lakers built a 29-point lead in the second quarter and led 96-68 late in the third period before the Cavaliers rallied.