NBA Rules: Stopping the Late Game, Intentional Foul

Spencer Kier@SpencerKier37Correspondent IJune 1, 2012

DeAndre Jordan, Reggie Evans and now, Tiago Splitter have all become victims of the Hack-A-Whoever technique that ESPN HoopIdea blogger, Beckley Mason, pointed out earlier in this year’s playoffs. 

Late in the third quarter of Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, Tiago Splitter entered the game to give Tim Duncan a breather. Nearly 10 seconds later, the bombardment of intentional fouls began. 

The next minute of action, or lack thereof, featured Splitter on the free throw line ten times. 

As if Scott Brooks’ implementation of the dreadful method wasn’t enough, the futility of it surely was. 

Splitter shot 50 percent from the charity stripe (a far cry and substantial upgrade from his 32 percent playoff average that warranted the tactics), while the Thunder managed to chip only one point off of the Spurs’ lead.   

You have to respect and applaud the Thunder’s effort to curtail the 14-point deficit that they were facing. There was no dirty or illegal play involved in their tactics, and it was all within the confines of the rulebook.

But that’s just the problem—it was within the confines of the rulebook. OKC’s strategies didn’t directly violate any regulation, and, until it does, teams and coaches will continue to employ it. 

The NBA could limit the number of intentional foul infractions through a variety of policies. Issuing a technical foul, allowing the offensive team to select a shooter for the pair of free throws, or, my personal favorite, extending the authority of an existing rule to cover these situations. 

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Section X of Rule No. 12 in the NBA’s Official Rulebook, states that: 

During the last two minutes of the fourth period or overtime period(s) with the offensive team in possession of the ball, all personal fouls which are assessed against the defensive team prior to the ball being released on a throw-in and/or away-from-the-play, shall be administered as follows:

(1) A personal foul and team foul shall be assessed and one free throw attempt shall be awarded. The free throw may be attempted by any player in the game at the time the personal foul was committed. 

The Hack-a-Whoever method already fits the NBA’s criteria for an “away-from-the-play foul,” with the exception of the “last two minutes of the fourth period or overtime period(s)” clause. If the NBA were to simply extend the rule and allow it to be applied to the entire game, then it would cure the cancer that is the intentional foul.

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