Scola Takes One Sitting Down
By not playing, Luis Scola had one of the most memorable games of his NBA career on Thursday.
The eight-season NBA veteran was held out of the Pacers’ win over New York at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, ending a streak of 277 consecutive appearances, the second-longest in the NBA. He wasn’t sick, he wasn’t injured, he wasn’t suspended and he wasn’t benched for poor play.
He was rested.
Coach Frank Vogel informed Scola on Wednesday of his plan to hold him out of the game, and might do so again on Saturday, when Sacramento visits The Fieldhouse. The idea was to give the 34-year-old a break and to create playing time for Lavoy Allen, who finished with eight points and five rebounds in 9 ½ minutes against the Knicks.
“We don’t want to be concerned about any long-term streak or anything like that,” Vogel said. “We said when we got healthy, when we got five healthy bigs, that I was going to find spots to get Lavoy Allen in there because he’s a heck of a basketball player and he’s been one of our better players the first half of the season.
“It was more about Lavoy, than Luis.”
The other bigs – Roy Hibbert, David West and Ian Mahinmi – have missed games this season because of injury, but Scola, true to his nature, kept going. The only way to get him out of the lineup was for Vogel to take him out.
Established players such as Scola who are held out of games for no obvious reason are sometimes subjects in a trade discussion, but he said he knew nothing of that. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich often rests his veteran players during the season so they are fresher in the playoffs, and Scola accepted it in that spirit.
Not that he wanted it. He maintains a strict diet free of sugar, dairy and gluten, and takes pride in his health. He not only hasn’t missed a game since April 13, 2011, when an injury kept him out of a game with Houston, he’s never missed a practice because of illness. He has said he hopes to play in the NBA past the age of 40.
“It doesn’t really matter,” he said of the streak’s end. “It doesn’t change a lot. What I want is to play the most possible games. It doesn’t matter if it was in a row.”
Donald Sloan also was notable for his absence against the Knicks, who trailed by as many as 34 points in the fourth quarter. Sloan said he could have played, but was nursing a thigh bruise and was held out as a precaution.