By: Will Burchfield
According to Stan Van Gundy, Bulls center Robin Lopez might have a future in football.
The Pistons coach sarcastically praised Lopez’s tackling technique after he went out of his way to take down Andre Drummond during a fast break in Detroit’s 109-95 win over Chicago on Monday night. Lopez was originally hit with an away-from the play-foul, but the infraction was downgraded to a common foul after review.
“I thought it was a very good tackle on Robin Lopez’s part — you know, a good, solid hit. He had his head up like they teach you and he wrapped him up,” Van Gundy said. “But they said it was not an away-from-the-play foul and it was not a flagrant. I was tempted to try the same thing on Jimmy Butler and see if the interpretation was the same.”
It was hard to mistake Lopez’s intentions. Hoping to prevent an easy basket for the Pistons and force Drummond to the free-throw line, he sought out Detroit’s big man, who was trailing the play, and just about clotheslined him to the floor.
By all appearances, it was an away-from-the-play foul, which would have awarded the Pistons one free throw and possession of the ball. (Rule changes instituted last summer allow for away-from-the-play fouls to be called in the last two minutes of each quarter. The Lopez foul occurred with 1:50 remaining in the third.) Referee Brent Barnaky ruled that way on the floor, but the call was altered by the league’s replay center in New Jersey.
The final verdict left Van Gundy perplexed.
“So I guess if you’re running downcourt then you can just grab somebody. I mean, if that’s not an away-from-the-play foul then I don’t know why we have the rule — he (Drummond) is running outside the lane,” Van Gundy said.
“It was definitely an intentional foul, it had nothing to do with the play,” he added later. “But the explanation that Brent gave me was that the call was made in the replay center and that it did not meet the criteria for an away-from-the-play foul. So I guess if you’re moving toward the basket, which you sort of have to if you’re coming up the floor, then it’s not an away-from-the-play foul.”
Drummond converted one of two free throws before possession flipped back to the Bulls. He would finish with 12 points and eight rebounds in 29:30 of action.