By Ryan Rodriguez
Well, with three of the four California teams in action last night, I decided I’d do a little blurb/roundup on the games. The two bottom feeders, the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings, came out with wins while the Los Angeles Clippers engaged in a great duel with the Miami Heat, before ultimately falling to the defending champs. Each game featured it’s own unique story line and we start in Cleveland, where the Lakers ended the game in probably the most weird and bizarre way you have ever seen.
Los Angeles Lakers 119 – 108 Cleveland Cavaliers
I only picked this game up in the second half, as I didn’t realize that Cleveland was in the Eastern time zone and the game would be starting at 4 PM West Coast time. By the time I tuned in, the Lakers were up by 21 points, but I knew that this game was far from over. If you have watched the Lakers at all the last few years, you know that no lead is ever safe, and this game was no different as the Cavs closed the gap multiple times in the fourth quarter, getting the game to as close as eight multiple times. However, Big Game Blake (as my housemate likes to call Steve Blake) truly went big game on the Cavs, dropping a triple-double despite only having three points halfway through the fourth quarter. All 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 15 assists were needed, as the Lakers finished the game with only four eligible players.
That’s right. You heard me. The great Los Angeles Lakers, the best franchise in the NBA, somehow has fallen so far that they finished the game with only four eligible players. They started the game with only eight active players, only getting even that many because Blake decided to play even though he ruptured his ear drum the night before (he’s tough). As the game developed, Nick Young tweaked his knee and Jordan Farmar left the game with a cramp in his calf. This dropped the Lakers to six healthy, active players (are they playing in the rec league or the NBA?), only to watch Chris Kaman foul out. Now down to five players (Blake, Kendall Marshall, Wes Johnson, Ryan Kelly, and Rob Sacre), the Lakers watched as Sacre fouled out on a semi-questionable call with 3:32 left, leaving the Lakers with only four eligible players.
Due to NBA rules, a team has to have five players on the court at all times, so Sacre had to stay in, and any time he committed a foul, the Lakers would be assessed a technical on top of the personal foul. Needless to say, this is one of the weirdest and craziest things I have ever seen happen, and it’s kind of depressing that it had to happen to such a proud franchise like the Lakers.
Despite all of these injuries and disqualifications, the Lakers were still able to stop their seven game losing streak. As mentioned, Big Game showed up hitting two huge threes despite the torn ligament in his shooting elbow (I told you he’s tough), and Ryan Kelly dropped a career-high 26. This game really had it all, plot twists, gutty performances, and something that I had never seen before, and it kept me on the edge of my seat the whole fourth quarter.
Sacramento Kings 109 – 101 Toronto Raptors
This game ended up a lot closer than I ever expected it would. The Kings had steadily built up a 20-point lead by the end of the third quarter, only to see the Raptors fight all the way back and make it a very close game. With the score at 105-99 with 25 seconds left, Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry came off a down screen, launched a 3, and swished it while Ben McLemore ran into his leg, drawing a foul on Lowry. The rarely called offensive foul where a jump shooter kicks his legs out, drawing contact was called and with that Lowry lost his opportunity at a 4-point play that could have brought the game within two points. It was a pretty weak call in my eyes, I was watching without sound and I fully thought the refs were going over to review if Lowry was behind the three point line, only to be surprised when I realized what the call actually was. To make matters worse for the Raptors, Lowry got called for a tech after he ran away from the refs so he wouldn’t start arguing with them. Clearly a dumb foul call deserved a dumb “T” as well. If you ask me, it should have been a no call since no defender can really prepare for how Lowry’s feet swung out.