The Houston Rockets had such momentum in the process of stunning the Oklahoma City Thunder and their famous home crowd, that the home team had to intentionally foul Omer Asik in order to make a comeback attempt as early as the six-minute mark.
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"Hack-Asik" (that's hak-uh-sheek), as it was termed, ended up hurting the Thunder as much as it helped them, and Asik's final numbers from the line of 13-for-18 showed poise down the stretch necessary to close out a tight game.
When teams lose in the manner the Thunder did -- by slowing the game down to a snail's pace and making a close contest nearly unwatchable for fans -- all eyes typically shift toward the head coach for an explanation. Obviously, he's well within his rights to do whatever it takes to win at all costs, but the questions pile up when the result doesn't go as planned.
Right on cue, Scott Brooks had some 'splaning to do after this one (via TNT's broadcast of Inside the NBA):
"(Asik) stepped up, give him credit, Brooks told reporters following the game. "He stepped up and made shots. He made his free throws. That's a strategy we don't use often. We used it once last year against the (San Antonio) Spurs. If we would've hit maybe one more shot, we were going to get out of it. I think we had a chance to cut it to seven with four minutes to go but I give him credit. He stepped up and made them."
Asik went 9-for-14 during that stretch and looked to get in a better rhythm as the quarter wore on. Derek Fisher committed a shooting foul on Asik at the 6:23 mark before Brooks chose to go with the strategy on a continual basis with 5:33 remaining in the game. After making 1-for-2 at that point, he got into a groove and made three of his next four.
Shaquille O'Neal, obviously well-qualified to speak on the situation, weighed in and said he found there could be a distinct advantage in going to the line with such frequency.
"A lot of people don't understand about Hack-a-Shaq, Hack-a-Asik, when they do it that many times you develop a little bit of a rhythm, O'Neal said on TNT's Inside the NBA "I used to really love it."
Hopefully, for everyone's sake, Shaq is right, because in terms of entertainment value, there's no enhancement to the viewing experience when teams use the Hack-a-anyone strategy.
If OKC somehow manages to squander the series, this sequence will be a major point of discussion. Maybe the NBA will do everyone a favor after the season and look at getting rid of it outright.
One could only hope.