It's one thing to foul a poor free throw shooter occasionally to slow down the other team's pace or mess with their rhythm. It's another thing entirely to allow one player to shoot 28 free throws in a first half that feels like it took half a century.
The Houston Rockets-Los Angeles Clippers Western Conference Semifinals matchup was set up to be an abomination from the start, as it features two of the worst free throw shooters in the league in Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan. It also features two head coaches who aren't shy about using the Hack-a-Shaq technique.
But Game 3 has completely gone off the wheels, as Rockets coach Kevin McHale decided to intentionally foul Jordan a whopping 14 times in the first half, good for 28 free throws and a new NBA Playoffs record. And, sure, Jordan only made 10 of them, but the Clips still went in to the half up by six. There's also this:
The Rockets outscored the Clippers 11-10 on the 14 Hack-a-Shaq possessions in the first half. Offensive ratings: HOU 78.6, LAC 71.4.— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) May 11, 2015
So for all of that, it gave the Rockets a one-point advantage. Great.
Look, we get it. If you're a professional basketball player, you should be able to make your free throws. But this isn't the game of basketball. This is a group of grown men wearing uniforms standing around, not engaged in the game at all, waiting for Jordan to be fouled. It's become something other than basketball, where Jordan has resorted to hiding in the backcourt instead of running past the timeline just so he won't be intentionally fouled.
The NBA is an entertainment product, not a holy writ. I'm sure there's still peeps stanning for the pre-shot clock 4 corners— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) May 11, 2015
You're still giving Jordan 10 free points regardless. Once you get up in to double digits like that, does it even matter what the alternate outcome would be? Even TNT's Ernie Johnson complained how hard the game was to watch during halftime.
So please, NBA, put a stop to this. It's turning what should be a great series into something that resembles a group of 8 year olds playing basketball for the first time.
UPDATE: DeAndre Jordan will have his revenge, and the Clippers are now destroying the Rockets.
Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org