Popovich Hates “Hack-A-Shaq” Strategy

Aron Baynes has just come in the game for Tim Duncan, with 4:33 left in the third quarter. The Rockets are up on the Spurs 60-56. Then one of the most depressing offensive sequences ever, just happened.

Patty Mills misses the pull up three pointer, but Baynes grabs the offensive board, only to get his layup blocked by the Rockets 6'3" point guard, Jeremy Lin. San Antonio does manage to pull down another offensive rebound, but this time, Boris Diaw's lame duck floater is swatted by Dwight Howard.

Three straight chances. Only 30 seconds came off the clock. And the Spurs managed to come away with zero points. You can just sense Coach Pop's blood pressure rising by the second.

On the next Rockets possession, Patty Mills fouls Dwight Howard while shooting. The Spurs are now in the penalty, with Dwight Howard at the line, reminding you how not to shoot a free throw. He makes one of two. Houston: 61, San Antonio: 56. And we all know what happens next.

Dwight Howard would be intentionally fouled for the remaining 3:27 of the third quarter, going 9-of-14 from the line in that time frame, and 13-of-25 overall for the night. Though the strategy brought Houston's offense to a hault, the San Antonio Spurs never had enough fire power to take advantage of the missed free throws, losing to the Rockets 97-90.

As we've seen recently, Popovich isn't afraid to employ the Hack-A-Subpar Free Throw Shooter tactic whenever he feels the game in balance. His victims include the likes of Dwight Howard, Shaq, DeAndre Jordan and even JaVale McGee. But the real news is how much Coach Pop actually "hates" it.

"I think it's awful. I hate doing it. Seriously. I think it's a pain in the neck, fans don't like it, I don't like it, nobody likes it. It disrupts the flow of the game. If there's an equitable way to get rid of it, I'm all for it.

"But it's part of the game. It's part of the rules now and if you think somebody can't shoot a free throw you might as well take advantage of it. If you think somebody can't shoot you don't guard him the same way. So [the strategy's] fair, it's just kind of ugly I think."

Amazing that Pop was so candid about his hatred for strategy, given how often he's used it, even if it was just to slow the game down to get his players some rest. But the Spurs have also been a victim of Hack-A-Bowen, and more recently, Hack-A-Splitter tactics by other teams.

Even though the strategy has its advantages, let's be honest. The Hack-A-(Insert Name Here) tactic should've died a long time ago, when Gregg Popovich pulled the greatest troll job of all time.

About John Diaz

John is a University of Houston student studying journalism and a jack of all trades (but master of none) for the Project Spurs Network. His other titles include managing editor of Spurs on Sixth and associate editor of Texas Redzone Report. You may follow him on Twitter @byjohndiaz.