It’s hard to go bigger than anything involving Shaquille O’Neal, but the Rockets took the old “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy to new heights — or a new low, depending on how you look at it — in Wednesday’s game against the Pistons. Facing a halftime deficit, and well aware of Andre Drummond’s reputation as a poor free throw shooter, Houston went to ludicrous lengths to foul the Detroit big man as much as possible.
Unfortunately for anyone hoping to never see that sort of thing happen again, the tactic nearly worked. Oh, and it resulted in Drummond setting an NBA record for most missed free throws by going just 13-of-36 from the line.
Down by nine at halftime, the Rockets came out of the locker room clearly determined to sacrifice any semblance of actual basketball in pursuit of a comeback. They put little-used K.J. McDaniels on the floor for the sole purpose of getting the Pistons into the bonus by committing five quick fouls.
McDaniels complied in ridiculously short order, accumulating those five fouls, all on Drummond, in just nine seconds of game time.
That meant that any subsequent Houston foul, whether in the act of shooting or not, would send Detroit players to the free-throw line. And one particular Piston did just that, to the tune of 28 attempts by Drummond, with 17 misses, in the second half alone.
In the midst of all the ugliness, the Rockets were able to quickly (in terms of game clock) make up their nine-point deficit, tying the contest just two and a half minutes into the third quarter. At that point, the Pistons, who had yet to to take a second-half shot from the field, took Drummond off the floor.
Eventually, Drummond returned, and promptly was fouled several more times, but the Pistons were able to rebuild their lead before the fourth-year center left the game for good with five and a half minutes left. But prior to his departure, Drummond made dubious history.
Apart from his free-throw shooting, which has been a problem his whole career (.386 average going into Wednesday’s game), Drummond is having a fine season, averaging over 17 points per game and leading the NBA in rebounding. However, stories like this aren’t going to help his campaign to get voted in as a starter for the East in the all-star game, despite the Pistons’ creative efforts.