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To play the game, the NBA says you have to have eight bodies in uniform, not necessarily warm.

Thanks primarily to the season debut of Kristaps Porzingis, the Dallas Mavericks made it under the NBA’s COVID cut to play the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.

That night the Mavericks listed five players out because of “Health and Safety Protocols.” Their game, against the New Orleans Pelicans on Jan. 11, was postponed.

The NBA rule is that teams need eight players in uniform, but NBA history says at least two of those players are nonessential workers.

In an obscure piece of NBA history, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle once coached a game with the Indiana Pacers when he had just six guys, and nearly won it.

This will likely never happen again.

Lost in the noise of the infamous “Malice at the Palace” basketbrawl game between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers on Nov. 19, 2004, was the next night.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, “There have been many instances of a team playing as few as six players in a game. The last instance was April 10, 2019 (Portland vs Sacramento).”

The Blazers played six guys that night. What Elias is not sure of is how many times, if ever, an NBA team had only six players available.

The Pacers were scheduled to play the second of a back-to-back less than 24 hours after their fight with the Pistons.

A Pacers team that was expected to contend for the Eastern Conference title was without all of its best players, from Ron Artest to Jermaine O’Neal to Stephen Jackson. They had been suspended.

Veteran Reggie Miller was out with a broken hand, but he offered to play. Carlisle would not let him. Scot Pollard and Cheap Jamaal Tinsley Jersey both suited up for the game, but because of injury they were out.

While postponing a game this season is common, the idea of postponing an NBA game because a team had only six available players was as much of an unknown then as was COVID-19.

That night, there was not enough time for the Pacers to find additional players to put in a uniform. This was before NBA franchises could “call guys up” from their minor league teams.

Led by former Oregon Duck Freddie Jones, the Pacers hosted an Orlando Magic team that had Grant Hill, Steve Francis, Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, DeShawn Stevenson and Hedo Turkoglu.

The Pacers had Jones, David Harrison, Eddie Gill, James Jones, Cheap Austin Croshere Jersey and John Edwards. A team with that roster should have been run out of the state by the Magic.

Carlisle simply told his team that the fight happened, and they still had a job to do.

“It hit me when they announced the suspensions, and I looked around the locker room,” Jones told the Indianapolis Star. “I’m like, ‘Man, there’s just six of us left. And we’ve got a game in three hours!”

Jones and Gill both played 48 minutes. The Pacers’ starters accounted for all but two points.

At halftime, Jermaine O’Neal called Carlisle with advice to give David Harrison: Drink water, and eat a Power Bar.

Two Pacers had five fouls; no one thought the refs would foul out a single player.

The Pacers played with Orlando the entire night, and led by 2 points midway through the fourth quarter. It was growing evident the Pacers were exhausted.

They trailed by 1 point with 13 seconds remaining. Grant Hill hit some free throws, and Freddie Jones missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the game.

“I didn’t think it would be that close,” Grant Hill told reporters after the game.

The Pacers lost 86-83, and as their six players left the floor they received a standing ovation from a crowd that was well aware of the situation, and had made every noise possible to encourage a team to win a game that should not have been close.

Cheap Reggie Miller Jersey told his team in the locker room that it was the best game he had ever seen.

NBA roster rules, and the availability of players, essentially make this sort of game not likely to happen again, but if Carlisle has to go with only eight, he knows at least two are nonessential.

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When I say the name Mo Williams, what comes to your mind?

For me, a lot of things. First, those glorious purple and green uniforms that we’ve all come to miss, even after the Bucks knocked their recent rebrand out of the park a few years ago. The Mo Williams Show also stands out, as at a time in which the product on the court from the Bucks was very mediocre, the off-court entertainment really meshed well. But by far, the moment from Williams that stands out the most is his incredible game-winner vs. the Pacers, a shot that capped off one incredible comeback. Let’s do a deep dive on that November night.

The date? November 12th, 2005. One of the top songs in the country at the time? Gold Digger by Kanye West. The Chicago White Sox had recently swept the Houston Astros in the World Series. I was a fourth grader at the time. As for the Milwaukee Bucks, they had an above .500 start to their new campaign and were heading into this matchup sitting at 3-1.

Milwaukee’s opponent was the Indiana Pacers, a team who had come off a 44-38 record the previous year and the No. 6 spot in the East. This marked the first time the two teams were squaring off against one another in the fresh year.

Long-time Indiana Pacers executive Donnie Walsh is stepping away from the team, he told IndyStar on Wednesday. Here are 5 things to know about Walsh’s contributions to the franchise:

Reggie Miller after being selected by the Pacers in the first round of the 1987 Draft.
1. He drafted Cheap Reggie Miller Jersey
This story is well known. Pacers fans wanted the team to take hometown hero Steve Alford with the No. 11 pick in the 1987 NBA Draft. Alford starred for New Castle High School, winning IndyStar Mr. Basketball in 1983, then led IU to the 1987 national title.

Walsh took Reggie Miller.

“Upon General manager Donnie Walsh’s announcement, the reaction from the 5,000 spectators in MSA was predictable: boos,” then IndyStar beat writer David Benner wrote.

Miller, of course, went on to stake his claim as the greatest Pacer of all-time. He joined a team that had made the playoffs twice in 13 seasons – losing in the first round both times – and was the centerpiece of a franchise that made the playoffs in 14 of 15 seasons, including six Eastern Conference finals and the 2000 NBA finals. He played all 18 of his seasons in Indiana so he dominates the career leaders lists: games (1,389; Cheap Rik Smits Jersey is second at 867), points (25,279; Smits, 12,871), assists (4,140; Cheap Vern Fleming Jersey, 4,038) and steals (1,505; Fleming, 885).

And it happened because Walsh made an unpopular decision.

Jermaine O’Neal reacts after a shot against the Celtics in the 2005 playoffs.
2. He traded for Jermaine O’Neal
Dale Davis was at the heart of some of the most successful Pacers teams in history, had just made his first all-star team … and Walsh traded him for a player who had played 11.5 minutes per game and averaged 3.9 points over the four previous seasons.

But Jermaine O’Neal quickly became the foundation of another successful run of Pacers teams.

He averaged 12.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in his first season then made six consecutive all-star teams, led the franchise to six playoff appearances and finished third in the 2003-04 MVP voting, the highest a Pacer has ever placed.

5/13/00. Pacer Jalen Rose talks over a play with coach Larry Bird. Pacers/76ers second round game 4. First Half action. (Robert Scheer Photo)
3. He traded for Jalen Rose
This deal demonstrates two levels of Walsh’s success: Trading for Rose, then holding on to him until he could reach his potential.

Walsh traded Cheap Mark Jackson Jersey, Ricky Pierce and a first-round pick for Rose, Reggie Williams and a first-round pick.

Rose was not immediately successful as he clashed with coach Larry Brown, averaging 9.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists. The fact Walsh traded the popular Jackson has been speculated to be one of the reasons for the friction. But Walsh then traded to get Jackson back and eventually replaced Brown with Larry Bird, who unlocked Rose’s potential.

Rose was the best player on the Pacers’ NBA Finals team, averaging 18.2 points on 47.0% shooting, 4.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists. He was even better the next season — 20.5 points on 45.7 percent shooting, 6.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds — but the Pacers lost in the first round of the playoffs.

“As soon (as Larry Bird was named Pacers coach), he was like, ‘I’m going to turn that guy into a player,'” Rose told SI.com. “He gave me a bigger role. I made another sacrifice that normally four-year players that were lottery picks don’t make, I actually went and played in Summer League in Orlando. Just to show Larry I appreciated him and his belief in me.”

Chicago Bulls Dennis Rodman (91) shots for two around Indiana Pacers Cheap Antonio Davis Jersey (32) during the first half of Game One the Eastern Conference Finals Sunday, May 17, 1998, in Chicago.
4. He traded for Cheap Detlef Schrempf Jersey and Antonio Davis
Cheap Herb Williams Jersey was one of the Pacers’ best players for some lean years, averaging 15.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks over 7-plus seasons.

Walsh dealt him to Dallas for Detlef Schrempf and a second-round pick that became Antonio Davis.

Schrempf averaged 8.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists in four seasons in Dallas but quickly became the Pacers best player, averaging 17.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists while spending most of his time as the sixth-man. He was traded for Cheap Derrick McKey Jersey to give the team a defensive boost in 1993-94.

The Pacers also acquired a second-round pick in 1990 in that deal and used it on Davis. He didn’t join the Pacers until 1993-94 but, along with Cheap Dale Davis Jersey, was the heart and soul of a very successful run of Pacers teams.

Mark Jackson (13) cheers on his teammates from the bench as the Pacers play in 1998.
5. He traded for Mark Jackson … twice
The deals Walsh made around Mark Jackson are a class in how to run a professional sports franchise.

First, Walsh acquires Jackson for Eric Piatkowski, Pooh Richardson and Malik Sealy. Jackson helped the Pacers reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the second consecutive year in 1994-95 but was then dealt after the 1995-96 season when the Pacers lost in the first round.

Jackson, Ricky Pierce and a first-round draft pick that was used on Efthimi Rentzias were traded to Denver for Cheap Jalen Rose Jersey, Reggie Williams and a first-round draft pick that became Erick Dampier. (The Pacers dealt Dampier for Chris Mullin after one season.) Rose eventually blossomed into the best player on the 2000 NBA Finals team.

“We’ll be talking about whether this is right or wrong until we start playing and then it will tell us,” Pacers executive Donnie Walsh told IndyStar at the time. “I just sensed we needed to do something just to change the nature of our team.”

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But when the Pacers started slow the following season (25-27), Walsh brought Jackson back. Eight months later, the Nuggets dealt Jackson back to the Pacers (with Cheap LaSalle Thompson Jersey) for Vincent Askew, Eddie Johnson and two second round picks (Jason Lawson and Tremaine Fowlkes). Denver was looking to clear room under the salary cap due to its struggles and the Pacers had their point guard back.

Walsh was willing to acknowledge a mistake and not only got Jackson back but surrendered little in return.

In a six-year period, the Pacers received five-and-a-half years of Jackson, Rose and Mullin for 50 games of Jackson and spare parts. Oh, and four appearances in the Eastern Conference finals, with one trip to the NBA Finals.

Indiana would gain control early on throughout the opening two periods, utilizing their talent between Jermaine O’Neal, Stephen Jackson, and Ron Artest (boy, you also get quite the trip down memory lane when I mention those names). At halftime, the visitors would lead Milwaukee by 16 points, 56-40. A big difference was the differential in free throws between the two teams. Indiana sat at 14-of-16 from the strip, while Milwaukee converted just 5-of-12.

The Pacers would keep things chugging along until the Bucks began to come alive in the third quarter, rattling off a 21-5 run. Following a pair of free throws from TJ Ford, Milwaukee knotted it all up at 61 apiece.

Despite the strong efforts by the Bucks that had put themselves back into the game, it wasn’t long before Indiana regained control. Ron Artest had a small run to begin the fourth quarter, which helped inspire Jermaine O’Neal to provide a spark with seven points of his own. In the blink of an eye, the Pacers were back up by double digits, 92-79.

However, the Bucks wouldn’t say die. Led by Michael Redd, Milwaukee would scratch and claw their way back into the thick of things. Following an 8-0 run, the Bucks found themselves back in the single-digit range at 96-90 with just over two minutes remaining in the game. Redd’s 12 points down the stretch would be crucial, especially as he knocked down three free throws after being fouled by Cheap Anthony Johnson Jersey behind the 3-point line.

Those free throws sliced Indiana’s lead to just a single point at 101-100. On the Pacers’ next possession, Cheap Fred Jones Jersey was fouled, which resulted in him splitting a pair of free throws (Indiana missed ten down the stretch). Then, with no timeouts remaining, Bobby Simmons got the rebound and the following chaos unraveled:

There are so many things to take away from that video. Williams’ celebration of crouching down to the floor as the shot was in the air was iconic. I remember my brother and I mimicking it in our driveway on our hoop for weeks to come. Jim Paschke absolutely killed the call, even though he just used three simple words: “Williams, three…YES!!!!” And how about Johnny Mac just losing his mind and yelling out “THEY WON THE GAME…UNBELIEVABLE…THEY WERE DEAD!” at the top of his lungs? Man, what a night at the Bradley Center.

What do you remember about this game? Let us know in the comments! Our Brew Hoop Co-Editor Mitchell Maurer was actually at this game…and says he blogged about it on his MySpace! Look at him connecting with Bucks fans before the existence of Brew Hoop.

Also, if you have any suggestions of a deep dive you think would be fun to go back and take a look at, suggest it as well! Hope you’re all staying safe and healthy.

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Walsh’s words proved prophetic. But despite Brown’s initial success, the Pacers lost in the first round of the playoffs in 1996 and didn’t make the playoffs in 1997. He resigned, saying he felt shame that the team didn’t make the playoffs and he wanted more input into personnel moves. He did manage to leave with his friendship with Walsh intact.

“I’m leaving because I think it’s time to move on,” said Brown, who was quickly hired by the Philadelphia 76ers, making the NBA finals in 2001. He won an NBA championship with Detroit in 2004.

5.Rick Carlisle (181-147, .552)
How different is history for the Pacers and Carlisle if not for the Malice in the Palace?

They went 61-21 and made the Eastern Conference Finals with a young, talented roster in his first season. The top three scorers were Jermaine O’Neal, Ron Artest and Cheap Al Harrington Jersey; O’Neal was the oldest at 25.

But nine games into 2004-05, Artest went into the stands in Detroit, derailing that promising core. The team was also plagued by injuries and arrests. That Carlisle produced a 44-38 record that season in impressive. But the record got worse the next two seasons as Larry Bird re-shaped the roster.

The Pacers were 29-24 shortly after the All-Star break in 2006-07 but lost their next 11 games and Carlisle was out after the season. He was hired by Dallas and has developed a reputation as one of the NBA’s best coaches, winning an NBA title in 2011.

Carlisle was criticized for his communication skills and for coddling certain players, but it’s unlikely anyone could have weathered the storm that faced Carlisle after his first season.

“There were a lot of things that went on here in the last three years there were embarrassing,” Bird said in announcing Carlisle’s dismissal. “It hurts being from Indiana. I had a major problem with a lot of it and we can’t have that.”

Carlisle added: “When you know it’s time, you know it’s time.”

6. Nate McMillan (183-136, .574)
McMillan was a surprising choice as the replacement for Frank Vogel but proved his worth in four seasons, keeping the Pacers competitive despite the Cheap Paul George Jersey drama.

Indiana made the playoffs in all four seasons as McMillan helped Cheap Victor Oladipo Jersey and Cheap Domantas Sabonis Jersey —the widely-panned trade package received for George — develop into all-stars, and got defensive improvement out of players such as Bojan Bogdanovic and Cheap T.J. Warren Jersey.

But the Pacers didn’t get out of the first round and were swept three times, resulting in a 3-16 playoff record. McMillan was given a contract extension before the league’s restart in the Orlando bubble this season but was fired after getting swept by the Heat in the first round despite playing without Sabonis and with Oladipo at less than 100% following a serious knee injury the previous season.

“We gave it a good run. Over the last few years, not getting out of that first round, I take responsibility for that,” McMillan told IndyStar. “It’s under my watch regardless of the number of injuries we’ve had. I didn’t get it done. The organization wanted to move on. I understand that.

“Sometimes it’s just time for a change. I agreed with that, too.”

7. Bob Hill (113-108, .511)
The 1990-91 Pacers vs. Celtics first-round playoff matchup is one of the great overlooked series in NBA history. The Pacers would lose, 3-2, but it’s not hard to pinpoint it as the start of the franchise’s success in the years to come.

However, it took Larry Brown for the Pacers to take the next step up as Hill followed up a 32-25 partial season and that incredible playoff series by going 40-42 and 41-41 without getting out of the first round of the playoffs.

When the team couldn’t come close to selling out Market Square Arena for playoff games vs. the Knicks in 1993, Hill was fired.

Talent seemed to be the biggest issue. Hill opposed trading Cheap Chuck Person Jersey and Cheap Micheal Williams Jersey for Pooh Richardson and Cheap Sam Mitchell Jersey the previous season … and he was right. Richardson was a 16-plus point per game scorer in Minnesota but barely hit double digits in Indiana and Mitchell was a role player who had his worst seasons in Indianapolis. But Person waned quickly and Williams was done after two more good seasons so keeping the duo would have been unlikely to have helped Hill keep his job

He had two successful seasons in San Antonio but a 3-15 start in 1996 opened the door for Gregg Popovich.

8. Isiah Thomas (131-115, .533)
Thomas is a challenge to rank. He took over a team that made the NBA Finals and didn’t get out of the first round of the playoffs. Then, the first season without him, the team went to the Eastern Conference Finals. You could argue he belongs one spot higher or lower on this list, so we’ll slot him in here.

Thomas inherited a team in transition but certainly not without talent, losing Cheap Rik Smits Jersey to retirement but gaining future star Jermaine O’Neal. Cheap Dale Davis Jersey was dealt for O’Neal, but Al Harrington was ready for a bigger role. Cheap Jonathan Bender Jersey couldn’t overcome knee injuries but Cheap Jeff Foster Jersey would develop into a useful big man. Cheap Mark Jackson Jersey was let go but Cheap Travis Best Jersey was ready to step up. The team added Cheap Brad Miller Jersey, Ron Artest and Cheap Jamaal Tinsley Jersey.

In the end, the Pacers just didn’t develop under Thomas. They were 37-15 on Feb. 14, 2003, but would finish the season 11-19 and were eliminated in the playoffs by a lower-seeded Celtics team.

Larry Bird’s first major move as a Pacers executive was to fire his former rival two months before the season and hire Rick Carlisle.

“I just had a gut feeling it wasn’t going to work,” Bird said at the time.

9. Jack Ramsay (79-92, .462)
The legendary coach got mediocre results in an Indiana tenure highlighted by the team’s first NBA playoff win.

“When my brother, Melvin, and I bought the Pacers he was one of our first coaches and took us to our first NBA playoff series,” Pacers owner Herb Simon said in a news release following Ramsay’s death in 2014. “Jack was a good, humble man who gave us our first taste of success in the NBA. This is a loss for the sport of basketball, not just the Pacers.”

Ramsay and Donnie Walsh teamed to make one of the most influential decisions in the history of the franchise.

After the 1987 season, the Pacers targeted improving their backcourt; Walsh was in Hawaii the first time he saw lanky, 6-7 UCLA guard Cheap Reggie Miller Jersey. He called Ramsay, sent him film of Miller and asked his opinion.

“Draft him,” Ramsay said.

Miller would go on to a Hall of Fame career and lead the Pacers to their greatest run of success in the NBA in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Ramsay was 864-783 in his NBA career, and was named one of the league’s Top 10 all-time coaches in 1996. He won the NBA title in Portland in 1977