NBA Commissioner Stern wants hacking to stop

A powerful, and powerless, ally

The Lakers would love for teams to stop intentionally fouling Dwight Howard.

So would David Stern.

The NBA commissioner told Fox Sports New Orleans on Wednesday that he previously tried to get the hack-a-whomever strategy banned for more than the last two minutes of games, when teams are awarded two free throws and the ball on deliberate fouls.

“I would have liked to have seen the rule changed to make the last two-minute rule the whole rule,” Stern told the station. “It was getting to a point last year where, [in the] first period, they were just grabbing players. I think that’s ludicrous.

“We tried to change it to any time in the game because last year I guess it was everyone was fouling Tiago Splitter early on and the [rules] committee didn’t want to do it. And so that’s just the way it is. Because the reality is that there are a lot of basketball purists — and I understand that point of view — who say, ‘Hey, why don’t you learn to shoot foul shots? You’re supposed to be a pro.'”

Howard looked amateurish at the free-throw line for most of this week when teams intentionally fouled him. He made seven of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter against Orlando and five of 10 late in the game against Houston before making both of his attempts when New Orleans tried the ploy.

The Lakers managed to avoid a hack-a-Howard scenario against Oklahoma City. Trailing by double digits for most of the second half might have had something to do with it.

Fossilized hopes
Last season’s 23-43 record might qualify as heady times in Toronto, where the Raptors are a bigger flop than the fictionalized theme park Jurassic Park.

A quarter of the way through the season, the four-win team doesn’t even have one victory for each of its middling starters. Trade rumors are rampant and frustration hasn’t just boiled over but evaporated everything in the pot.

“I can’t put into words how frustrating this is. It just sucks,” guard DeMar DeRozan told reporters Wednesday night after receiving a technical foul during a loss to Sacramento, the Raptors’ ninth defeat in their last 10 games. “We try to work as hard as we can, but the ball don’t bounce our way, it don’t go in when we need it to go in, everything you can think of goes against us.”

Getting babied
The entourages of Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller and Kevin Jones grew unexpectedly this week.

The Cleveland rookies were issued baby dolls and pink strollers, with the expectation that they must tote the newborn gear with them on the road.

“Apparently you’ve got to carry milk and Pampers in this little pink bag,” Jones said. “You’ve got to make sure it’s always full with that [stuff] and bring it in and out of the arena with you, and you get in trouble if you don’t have it with you.”

Cavaliers Coach Byron Scott distributed the baby items to give his youngest players more responsibility, telling reporters he “didn’t want these guys to be off the hook.”

Scott named Zeller’s doll LaQuesha. How’s that spelled, exactly?

“I have no idea,” Scott said, laughing.

-Ben Bolch