NBA’s weak compromise on “Hack-a-Shaq”: Not allowed in last two minutes of any quarter

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LAS VEGAS — The NBA Board of Governors, meeting Tuesday in Las Vegas, did its best imitation of Congress — with deep divides on how to an issue, they reached a compromise that does little.

The issue is the “hack-a-Shaq” — where a poor free throw shooting player (almost always a center) is intentionally fouled off the ball to force free throws. It drags games out, is just dull and painful to watch, the NBA’s television partners hate it, fans hate it, and while legal it is certainly not a play in the spirit of the game. The divide is between people who want to do away with hack-a-player fouls (by offering shots and the ball out of bounds, or some other compromises) led by commissioner Adam Silver, and those who say “those guys just need to learn to knock down free throws.”

Through this past season, the intentional fouls were banned only in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter.

The new compromise announced Tuesday is it is the fouls are banned in the final two minutes of every quarter.

“It was not everything some people were looking to do,” Silver said at a press conference later in the day.

He added that last season this would have reduced the number of hacks by 45 percent. Problem is, now coaches who want to do it will just be more aggressive doing it earlier.

My question is simply this: if you’re going to ban it for eight minutes a game, why not 48? What is the logic for rules changing during the game?

This will not end the majority of hacks (and hacks were up considerably last season). It takes six minutes of the game off the board, and it will remove the egregious intentional fouls made to create a two-for-one possession opportunity at the end of quarters (a Popovich favorite). However, under this new rule we’re still going to get a parade of DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond, and the rest going to the free throw line excessively.

Either fix it or leave it alone, but this kind of compromise solution seems destined for failure.

There are two other rule changes:

• It will presumptively be considered a flagrant foul if a player jumps on an opponent’s back to commit a foul.  Previously, it was up to the discretion of the official.

• During an inbounds play, a defensive foul before the ball is inbounded will result in one free throw and the ball out of bounds (before that had been the case in only in the final two minutes).

Watch Dinwiddie get ejected for elbow to Poole’s face; Mavs still win behind Doncic 41 points

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Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.

Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.

The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.

That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.

Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.

Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.

The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.

The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.