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. Repot: Timberwolves re-sign Robbie Hummel to one-year contract

    Jul 21, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Robbie Hummel, Stephen Graham Robbie Hummel, Stephen Graham

    Hummel gets second NBA deal after spending season in Spain

  2. Trey Burke also makes USA Select team

    Jul 21, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Trey Burke, Tim Frazier Trey Burke, Tim Frazier

    Jazz point guard will help national team prepare for World Cup this summer

  3. Isaiah Thomas says he felt wanted in Phoenix, that’s why he signed there

    Jul 21, 2014, 6:54 PM EDT

    Sacramento Kings v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    The Suns are going to be a League Pass favorite next season.

  4. Lakers great Michael Cooper diagnosed with cancer

    Jul 21, 2014, 6:22 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Cooper, who coaches WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, expected to make full recovery

  5. Reports: Boston Celtics finalizing deal for Evan Turner

    Jul 21, 2014, 5:29 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Indiana Pacers Getty Images

    Celtics fans are asking “why?” Good question.

  6. Jan Vesely exits NBA historically quickly

    Jul 21, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    2011 NBA Draft 2011 NBA Draft

    Former No. 6 pick by the Wizards signs in Turkey

  7. Paul George says Pacers second-half collapse because they lost their hunger

    Jul 21, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers - Game 5 Getty Images

    Of course, George thinks the Pacers can regain their form and be a threat next season in the East.

  8. Are Thunder skirting NBA protocol by sending first-round pick Josh Huestis to D-League?

    Jul 21, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Josh Huestis Josh Huestis

    It sounds as if former Stanford forward might give up hundreds of thousands of dollars (nearly his entire salary)

  9. Larry Bird offers lame rationale for losing Lance Stephenson

    Jul 21, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

    Larry Bird Larry Bird

    Stephenson took less money overall, more money per year to leave Pacers for Hornets

Featured video

Stephenson goes elsewhere for his future
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (4370)
  2. L. Stephenson (3598)
  3. L. James (3446)
  4. C. Boozer (3186)
  5. A. Wiggins (3126)
  1. R. Allen (3092)
  2. K. Bryant (2950)
  3. E. Bledsoe (2850)
  4. D. Rose (2723)
  5. D. Wade (2342)