Skip to content

Raptors coach Casey says he told team to foul when leading by three at the end of regulation. They did not.

Mar 9, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT

Amir Johnson, Dwane Casey

LOS ANGELES — It’s a great debate in NBA circles, and it’s one that makes for interesting conversation while breaking down what-if scenarios after the fact.

To foul or not to foul, when leading by three and the other team has possession of the ball in the game’s final seconds?

The Raptors were faced with this dilemma Friday night against the Lakers, leading 109-106 with L.A. inbounding the ball and 8.4 seconds remaining.

Kobe Bryant had just knocked down two extremely difficult looks from three-point distance to even get his team to this point, and Raptors head coach Dwane Casey knew that Bryant would likely be the one to get the ball and attempt to tie the game with one more heroic shot.

Casey’s instructions to his team were clear. The execution, however, left something to be desired.

“We were going to foul,” Casey said afterward. “To answer your question, we were going to foul. We were supposed to foul; we were instructed to foul. Two guys froze — I don’t know what happened, but we were going to foul. That was our game plan at eight seconds, no question about it.”

Bryant weaved his way through the defense to catch the ball, and once he did, Amir Johnson went for the pump fake, which left Bryant open to nail the game-tying shot. Johnson might have tried to reach out and commit the foul after he flew by Bryant, but by then he was too far out of position.

“He made a cut, I tried to foul him, but he made a good play,” Johnson said. “I missed him and he made a tough shot. Especially when we’re up three, we wanted to make him shoot free throws.”

The debate will rage on, but in practice the strategy is a difficult one to pull off. Players have to be cautious not to foul a player as he’s getting into his shooting motion, because a four-point play in that situation would spell disaster.

It was clear in this case that the players and their coach were on the same page in terms of what the plan was. But plans tend to change when one of the game’s best players has the ball in his hands with the game hanging in the balance.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Pistons signing Eric Griffin

    Sep 1, 2015, 11:07 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    Griffin will give Pistons 19 players, 17 with guaranteed salaries

  2. LeBron James: Championship not a requirement of a great team

    Sep 1, 2015, 10:07 PM EDT

    LeBron James AP

    LeBron indicates 1999-00 Trail Blazers were great, implies something about his own career

  3. Erik Spoelstra: Heat’s starting lineup needs time before it’ll succeed

    Sep 1, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside look pretty good on paper

  4. Wizards expect Tomas Satoransky to join them in summer of 2016

    Sep 1, 2015, 6:01 PM EDT

    FC Barcelona v Olympiacos Piraeus - Turkish Airlines Euroleague Play Off Getty Images

    He’s a 6’7″ combo guard with a lot of potential

  5. Will Miami make a run at Kevin Durant?

    Sep 1, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    Kevin Durant AP

    Miami is a long shot to land him, but you can bet Pat Riley will have them positioned for a run.

  6. Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson does his imitation of Kobe’s shot

    Sep 1, 2015, 2:19 PM EDT

    Detroit Pistons v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Lots of pump fakes. Lots and lots of pump fakes.

  7. Kings name Vlade Divac GM, Peja Stojakovic director of player development

    Sep 1, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Vlade Divac Vlade Divac

    Stojakovic had been rumored for several weeks to be joining the Kings.

  8. Dwyane Wade playing dodgeball? We’ve got that (VIDEO).

    Sep 1, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    wade Getty Images

    Wade would make Patches O’Houlihan proud.

  9. Report: Celtics engaged in contract extension talks with Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger

    Sep 1, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    If I were a betting man, I’d expect there’s a better than 50/50 chance a Zeller deal gets done.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2730)
  2. K. Irving (2205)
  3. A. Davis (1870)
  4. K. Bryant (1522)
  5. L. James (1441)
  1. K. Durant (1281)
  2. T. Thompson (1266)
  3. B. Jennings (1220)
  4. M. Leonard (1145)
  5. A. Aminu (1116)