Have you taken a moment to examine the box score from the Denver Nuggets’ 112-105 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers? If so, did you happen to notice anything strange about it? Like maybe that Earl Clark appears to have scored two points without playing?
What in the world is up with that?
Having watched the game, I can assure you that this is not an error. Earl Clark did in fact score two points without playing, and according to the records of Basketball-Reference.com he’s the first player to do so since at least 1985 (my search did turn up other games where players scored in zero minutes; however, if you examine the box scores, they all played at least four seconds, whereas Clark didn’t play at all).
How is it possible for a player to score without playing, though? Allow me to explain. At the 1:05 mark of the fourth quarter, Pau Gasol was struck by an inadvertent JaVale McGee elbow. A foul was called, and with Denver in the penalty Gasol was awarded two free throws. However, a cut had opened up on the bridge of his nose as a result of the contact from McGee’s elbow. Pau was bleeding profusely, and trainer Gary Vitti couldn’t stop it. With the allotted time to stop the blood having expired, someone else had to shoot Gasol’s foul shots. Being that the foul was ruled a common foul Nuggets coach George Karl was allowed to choose the shooter. He took a gander down LA’s bench and picked Earl Clark, who hadn’t appeared in the game. This proved to be a poor decision as Clark confidently stepped up and swished both. Immediately following Clark’s second free throw, Karl called a timeout. During the stoppage, Clark was replaced by Jodie Meeks. Being that he was never on the floor for even a split second of live action, Earl Clark technically recorded a DNP (as Yahoo’s box score reports)… despite his two points.
Quite honestly, I was a little surprised to find that this had apparently never happened before (at least not since the ’85/86 season). I suppose it’s simply not very often that players are unable to shoot their own free throws. It’s common knowledge that an injured player will typically take the attempts by any means necessary as failing to do so results in a disqualification. For example, Jermaine O’Neal once shot (and made) two free throws with his left hand after injuring his right arm. Pau’s situation was obviously a little different because a player isn’t to be allowed into the game if he’s dripping blood all over the floor.
Enjoy your place in history, Earl Clark!