Pistons Andre Drummond Misses Record 23 Free Throws
Basketball is a free-flowing sport, giving the athletes plenty of opportunities to manipulate the game throughout the 48 minutes of action (40 if you're in college). However, many times in the final couple of minutes, basketball can slow down because of immediate strategies: teams that are trailing will foul to extend the game, teams that are winning will run the shot clock down as much as possible with no willingness to try and score.
The perfect example of this took place during Wednesday night's NBA match-up between the Detroit Pistons and the Houston Rockets, as the Pistons defeated the Rockets 123-114. But the Rockets had a plan to try and win the game: intentionally foul the Pistons' Andre Drummond. A lot.
(Also, keep in mind that in the NBA, players can foul up to six times before being disqualified from the contest.)
Late in most games, many teams will have fouled enough to place the other team in the bonus; meaning the other team will get the opportunity to shoot free throws every time they get fouled.
The Rockets did this, trying to A. extend the game, and B. get more opportunities to rebound missed free throws. But how do you rebound missed free throws? Well, the other team has to miss them, obviously. So who do you want to foul if this becomes your strategy? The statistically worst free throw shooter on the other team, right?
On the season, Drummond is a 35% free throw shooter. The Rockets chose to intentionally foul him to send him to the charity stripe late in the game. They hoped he would miss some free throws so they could get the ball back in their possession without giving up many points.
He missed a few. And by "he missed a few," I mean he missed 23 out of the 36 he attempted.
That isn't a typo: he missed 23 free throws in one game. An NBA record. Unfathomable, I know.
And what makes it worse is that the Rockets didn't even wait until late in the game to start this "tactic." They began fouling Drummond literally as soon as the second half started!
Fouling late in games has been status quo in basketball basically since Dr. Naismith invented it. Doing anything within the rules of the game to win should be admirable. But there's just something disingenuous about intentionally fouling someone without giving the team even a chance to inbound the ball, and especially when the game isn't even close to being over.
In case you were confused by what I meant by intentionally fouling Drummond, that video explains it pretty well. It was deliberate, it was pathetic, and it's simply unsportsmanlike.
Fouling late in games is okay when you're trying to at least look like you're trying to steal the ball from the ball-handler, but when you walk straight up to a specific player without the ball and foul him before the ball is anywhere in his vicinity (and before the fourth quarter), that's sad.
But you know what makes up for it, though? The Rockets still lost by nine. You know why? Because they gave up 59 free throw attempts, and excluding Drummond, the entire Pistons team only missed one free throw combined (22-23).