Trailing by 15 with 4:55 remaining, the Suns were watching the Thunder run away from them in the fourth quarter and with it, maybe taking their playoff hopes with them. Alvin Gentry was desperate and so he busted out a tactic I haven’t seen in a while.
Intentionally foul the other team’s bad free throw shooting big man.
It didn’t really work as Kendrick Perkins made five of six from the line. Scott Brooks said after the game he was fine with their strategy , but it’s not something he would do.
“I’m comfortable with any of our guys shooting free throws,” Brooks told reporters. “We work on it every day. Guys have a lot of confidence, and I have confidence in them. It’s good for us, we’re going to step up and make those shots. They’re free, and it puts a lot of pressure on them because now they have to score.
“You can’t give up free shots; a foul is not a good defense in my book. But that’s not my decision to make, and I like the fact that Perk went up there and knocked them in.”
Perk on the other hand didn’t blame them.
“(Shoot), I would too if I was them,” Perkins told Pro Basketball Talk. “Yeah, the way I’ve been struggling from the line, it’s the best chance for them to get back in the game. But I’ve got to take it upon myself, step up and hit the free throws, and just go from there. I probably would have done the same thing.”
Perk is about a 60 percent free throw shooter but with the Thunder (before last night) was hitting just 36 percent from the line. And he had gone just 2-13 the past few games.
The Thunder are one of the top free throw shooting teams not just in the league, but in league history. Currently, they’re only second at 82.1 percent behind the 2002-03 Dallas Mavericks (82.9 percent). Perkins is obviously hurting them some in that regard.
Question is, could he hurt them even more when the games get more important? Is this a strategy we could see other teams use in the postseason? Probably not because of the rule changes that prevent teams from doing it in the closing minutes of a game, but if OKC is up 10 with four minutes left, would someone dare try it?
Doesn’t matter as long as Perk does what he did last night. Step up and knock them down.