The Los Angeles Lakers won on Tuesday with the Orlando Magic resorting to “Hack-a-Howard” and constantly parading Dwight Howard to the foul line, but that doesn’t mean coach Mike D’Antoni approves of “Hack-a-Whomever.”
“I’m not criticizing anybody, but it’s part of the rules that’s just not great,” D’Antoni said before the Lakers played the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. “We’re an entertainment business. That’s not entertaining for anybody.”
The Lakers beat the Magic 106-97 with Howard tying his own all-time NBA record for free throw attempts in a game, going 25 of 39 from the line.
After the game, D’Antoni said Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn’s tactic created an inferior product for the paying customers in the seats.
“I hate it for the fans,” D’Antoni said.”They can come to practice for free and watch them shoot 40-50 foul shots. They don’t even have to pay for tickets. I’ll invite them all.”
It wasn’t the first time Vaughn used the game plan. He employed it when the Magic beat the Lakers 113-103 at Staples Center on Dec. 2, and Howard went 9 of 21 from the line.
“You try to win, I understand that, coaches got to do what they do, but it might be something that you can look at down the road,” D’Antoni said. “Especially [because] I’ve got non-shooters, I’d vote for [banning] it. If I had shooters, I wouldn’t vote for it. That’s how we work as coaches.”
Howard said he’s no big fan of the strategy but understands why it’s used.
“It is boring, it’s not a fun way to play and it’s not fun for the fans to watch, but for the other team they’re trying to win,” Howard said Wednesday night. “We can’t get upset with it. I don’t want to just have to take the ball out as soon as I step inbounds, they foul me. That’s not fun, but guys will do what they got to do to win.”
Howard believes it’s not the way the game was intended to be played.
“Nobody wants to play where it’s just fouls repeatedly, but like I said, that’s another team’s strategy,” Howard said. “I don’t think we’ll ever do that here on our team.”
The strategy is nothing new to D’Antoni. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich used it against Shaquille O’Neal when he was the center on D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 2008 playoffs.
“Shaq would try to run through people, which is kind of different,” D’Antoni said. “He punished the guy. I felt sorry for the guy who had to go give the foul because he tried to hunt him down and kill him.”
The NBA Coach of the Year in 2004-05 doesn’t feel right having his teams play that way.
“I’ve tried it; it’s just kind of like I don’t like it,” D’Antoni said. “If I can’t beat them, I don’t want to [do that]. But, I understand why you would do it.”
The NBA’s 10-man competition committee would have to review D’Antoni’s claim in order for the league to make a change to the rules to prevent intentional foul situations from continuing in the future. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is one of four GMs on the committee along with two owners, three head coaches and one representative from the National Basketball Players Association.