Just days after Jason Kidd purposely spilled a drink in an effort to get the Brooklyn Nets an extra ‘timeout’ due to a stoppage in play, Houston Rockets head coach and former NBA player Kevin McHale decided he’d try a little subtle trickery of his own.
With the San Antonio Spurs attempting to inbound a pass with just seconds left in the first half, McHale went to the right side of Tim Duncan who was the inbounder. He then decided to go to his left side and then as Duncan lobbed the ball down court, McHale stood up just enough to interfere with the pass.
That lead to Duncan throwing a fit to referees and Spurs head coach Greg Popovich being forcibly restrained by his assistant coaches. Pop also made his way into the tunnel as the Rockets were leaving the floor, chewing out McHale in the process and again before the start of the second half, which sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Neither Popovich nor Duncan would comment on Kevin McHale’s bit of bush-league gamesmanship near the end of the first half, when he walked in front of Duncan and stood to his right as the future Hall of Famer was attempting to inbound the ball from three quarters court with less than five seconds left. Duncan got the ball in cleanly, after which the Spurs missed a pair of rushed shots. But Popovich was enraged, not only earning a technical foul on the spot but coming back to bark at McHale during warmups for the second half.
McHale was legally within the coaching box on the sideline, so no punishment is expected, though he did say he could have picked a better spot to stand.