CLEVELAND (AP) — 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.
"That was just crazy," Sacre said. "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."
Each side has to have five players on the court at all times during an NBA game. With the Lakers down to five healthy players, D'Antoni was informed by the officials that he could leave Sacre on the floor and any addition foul on the center would also result in a technical.
"I didn't know about that rule, but it's a nice rule," D'Antoni said with a chuckle.
The Lakers were without Steve Nash (rest), Jodie Meeks (sprained ankle) and Jordan Hill (strained neck). Pau Gasol (groin) and Kobe Bryant (knee) remained in Los Angeles for the three-game road trip.
The situation was so unusual that Nash, who was in street clothes, went to the locker room and put on his uniform late in the game, but D'Antoni said he had no intention of putting the point guard into the game.
"I was not going to go to Nash — it was not an option to us — but the other thing we talked about was having Jordan go out there and just stand in the corner," D'Antoni said. "When the officials came over to explain the options to me, we decided to keep Robert out there. I knew he would be smart and not commit too many more fouls."