Up by 3, to Foul or Not to Foul?

by Marcel Mutoni

That’s the question Stan Van Gundy and his coaching staff had to answer as they clung to a three-point lead late in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Van Gundy picked the wrong answer, as he elected not to foul the Lakers on the inbound play, and the rest as they say, is history.

Derek Fisher calmly dribbled up the floor, raised up for the game-tying three, and added yet another chapter to his postseason legend.

After the devastating loss, Orlando’s head coach was grilled by the assembled media, and tried to explain why he didn’t order his team to foul the Lakers in that situation. From the Orlando Sentinel:

“We thought 11 seconds was too early, especially the way we were shooting free throws,” Coach Stan Van Gundy said. “In retrospect, we gave [Fisher] too much space to shoot the ball. We played like we were trying to protect a layup. We just didn’t play Derek Fisher.”

“Yes, I regret it now [not fouling]. … That play will haunt me forever.”

Well, at least he’s self-aware. So, he’s got that going for him.

Of course, the decision not to foul is not the sole reason Orlando is now staring down a virtually insurmountable 3-1 hole…their horrendous free throw shooting (they missed 15 on the night), 19 turnovers, and defensive lapses in the closing moments played equally big roles.