Lakers center Robert Sacre tries to score inside against Cavaliers forward… (Mark Duncan / Associated…)
CLEVELAND — It's true. Nothing's shocking anymore.
The Lakers were seemingly down to four players but beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 119-108, with help from an obscure rule that kept Robert Sacre in Wednesday's game after he picked up his sixth personal foul.
The Lakers started with only eight players in uniform, lost two because of health reasons (Nick Young, Jordan Farmar) and then another two because of fouls (Chris Kaman, Sacre).
So referee Jason Phillips saved the Lakers' day at Quicken Loans Arena.
He informed them that Sacre could stay on the court despite picking up his sixth foul on a drive by CJ Miles with 3:32 to play. The only remaining Lakers were already on the court -- Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly, Steve Blake, Kendall Marshall -- and a team cannot drop to four players if there are no other options.
Sacre was allowed to keep playing, a technical foul was assessed for the infraction and Cleveland made the free throw. The Lakers were ahead at the time of the foul, 111-101.
"That was the craziest game I've ever seen," said Kaman, the 11-year veteran.
Something like this hadn't happened since Devean George picked up a sixth foul but was allowed to keep playing for Golden State in 2010 against Portland, according to STATS.
Coach Mike D'Antoni wasn't familiar with any of it.
Farmar's return was out of the question after he left because of leg cramps with 9:39 to play.
"The longer I played, the worse I felt," he said after compiling 21 points and eight assists in his first game since Dec. 31.
Said Sacre: "We had no idea what was going to happen."
Steve Nash was technically active for the game but did not suit up because it was the second night of back-to-back contests. Someone fished him out of the locker room, though, and he appeared near the bench in his game jersey.
Kaman laughed. He had untied his shoes and was reclining on the end of the bench after fouling out with 8:29 to play.
"What are you going to do, Steve?" Kaman later recalled saying.
D'Antoni didn't give it a serious thought. Nash will be 40 on Friday and played his first game Tuesday in almost three months.
"That would be unfair to him," D'Antoni said. "And Farmar could have just stood out there somewhere but it wouldn't have been the best thing."
Obscurities aside, how exactly did the Lakers not extend their seven-game losing streak, their longest in almost seven years?
They made 18 three-pointers, a team record for a regulation game, on 37 attempts for a strong 48.6%.
Blake finished with his second career triple-double (11 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists) in only his second game back from a two-month layoff because of a torn elbow ligament.
Kelly had a career-high 26 points but now the Lakers' injury watch turns to Young, who hurt his knee in the second quarter after being fouled by Miles on a fastbreak attempt.
"[Miles] wrapped me up but at the same time all my momentum was going for the layup," said Young, who will have an MRI exam Thursday. "He could have let me have a layup."
Pau Gasol (strained groin) and Kobe Bryant (knee swelling) were back in Los Angeles. Jodie Meeks (sprained ankle), Jordan Hill (strained neck) and Xavier Henry (bruised knee) were also out.
"Four on five would have been unique to watch," Sacre said. "But, yeah, I'm glad it didn't happen that way."
BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX
What the rule book says
RULE NO. 3 -- PLAYERS, SUBSTITUTES AND COACHES
Section I -- Team
a. Each team shall consist of five players. No team may be reduced to less than five players. If a player in the game receives his sixth personal foul and all substitutes have already been disqualified, said player shall remain in the game and shall be charged with a personal and team foul. A technical foul also shall be assessed against his team. All subsequent personal fouls, including offensive fouls, shall be treated similarly. All players who have six or more personal fouls and remain in the game shall be treated similarly.