With a Bang

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In NBA history, only eight teams have kicked off their season by scoring 140 or more points.  You’d think that kicking off the season with such a barrage of points would be a good sign for the team going forward, but…

It happened 4 times in the sixties.  In 1960, the Cincinnati Royals beat the LA Lakers 140-123 to kick off their season, they finished that season 33-46.  In 1962, two teams did it.  The San Francisco Warriors beat the Detroit Pistons 140-113 but only finished the season 31-49.  The Boston Celtics fared much better – after their opening day demolishing of the New York Knicks, 149-116, they finished the season 58-22 (and won the NBA championship).

Later, in 1967, the San Francisco Warriors again kicked off the season sizzling, with a 144-116 win over the Seattle Supersonics. But they finished the season tepid, with a record of 43-39.

The same thing happened in 1984.  The Portland Trailblazers demolished the Kansas City Kings, 140-119, but finished the season at a highly mediocre 42-40.  In 1991, however, the San Antonio Spurs bucked the trend.  They followed up their 140-99 shellacking of the Dallas Mavericks by finishing a very respectable 47-35.

However, the grandaddy of all kickoff games was the one between the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets, on November 2, 1990.  Golden State won the game (in regulation!) 162-158, even though Denver took 130 shots!  The overwhelming offensive prowess didn’t translate much to the rest of the season, though, as Golden State went 44-38 and Denver was the worst team in the league, finishing at 20-62, despite scoring nearly 120 points a game.

It’s a long shot

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Everyone has seen the last-second full-court shot, tossed up as a hail mary at the last second (or sometimes just after the last second, by savvy players looking to keep their field goal percentage intact).  There doesn’t seem to be much reason why a player would take a shot from 70+ feet at any time besides the end of a quarter.  But it has happened three times in the last 7 years – let’s see if we can figure out why.

Feb. 7, 2012 – Utah Jazz vs. Indiana Pacers – 9:14 left, 2nd quarter.  With about 13 seconds remaining on the shot clock, C.J. Miles takes a shot from 80 feet.  Without video to watch and figure it out, my best guess is that the ball got knocked away into the backcourt and Miles either thought the shot clock was about to expire or he tried to make a long pass that ended up looking more like a shot.

Mar. 27, 2017 – New Orleans Pelicans vs. Utah Jazz – 3:23 left, 4th quarter.  This one is a little more obvious from the play-by-play data.  The shot clock was winding down and Raul Neto must have gotten the ball knocked into the backcourt and had no other choice but to attempt a 74 foot shot.  He didn’t manage to hit the rim, however, and the Jazz suffered a shot clock violation.

Apr. 22, 2016 – San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies – 0:35 left, 2nd quarter.  This one also appears to be shot-clock related, and Matt Barnes must have at least caught the rim because there was no shot clock violation.  The other possible explanation for a 74-foot shot with 35 seconds left in the half?  Matt Barnes is Matt Barnes.

Slow Start

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Some days you wake up and you just don’t quite feel ready to go yet.  It’s a similar feeling to what the teams in these games felt.  Over the last seven years, the longest scoring drought at the beginning of a game was 224 seconds – in a game on March 26, 2016 between the Timberwolves and Jazz.

The two offensive powerhouses combined for 11 missed shots before Karl-Anthony Towns mercifully made a shot.  The clock read 8:16 and the crowd breathed a sigh of relief – though it took another minute and 16 seconds before the Jazz finally were able to get one to rattle home.

As far as one-team futility goes, though, the record is far worse.  The Los Angeles Lakers, on Jan. 13, 2015, managed to go 457 seconds before scoring.  In the game against the Miami Heat the Lakers missed 11 shots to begin the game – plus two free throws for good measure.  Luckily for the home crowd, Kobe finally got one to fall, with 4:23 left in the 1st quarter.  Somehow the Lakers almost ended up winning that game, as a 3-pointer from Bryant that could have tied the game with 2 seconds left didn’t quite drop.

Finally, on Dec. 1, 2013, in a game between the Pelicans and Knicks, neither team even attempted a shot for 88 seconds.  It must have felt like an eternity as the two teams traded turnovers until finally the great Andrea Bargnani managed to take a shot at the basket.  It did go in – though it wouldn’t matter as the Knicks ended up losing the game.

Courtesy of Basketball Reference

Three Seconds or Less

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Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash ran one of the most fantastic offenses the NBA has ever seen – with their philosophy of getting a shot up in seven seconds or less.  But you don’t often see a shot go up that quickly at the beginning of a game.  Here’s a list of those from the last five seasons who are trying to keep the magic of SSOL alive by taking the first shot of the game only three seconds in!

Date Player Team Opponent Distance Did He Make It?
Nov. 14, 2012 Joakim Noah Chicago Phoenix 4 feet No
Nov. 17, 2012 Tobias Harris Milwaukee New Orleans 11 feet No
May 21, 2013 Danny Green San Antonio Memphis 1 foot Nope – blocked by Mike Conley
Mar. 26, 2014 Kenneth Faried Denver San Antonio 1 foot Nope – blocked by Kawhi Leonard
Oct. 28, 2015 Andre Roberson Oklahoma City San Antonio At the rim Yes
Oct. 30, 2015 Nicolas Batum Charlotte Atlanta 1 foot Yep – and finished the three-point play!

Notes:

  • Tobias Harris was the only player to take a three-seconds-in shot from further out than 4 feet.
  • Harris was also one of two who received the ball from a pass, rather than grabbing the jump ball himself. Brandon Jennings made the pass.
  • The other was Joakim Noah who received a quick pass from Kirk Hinrich.
  • Noah was the only shooter who also participated in the jump ball – quick moves from Jo!
  • Shooting percentage on these is only 33% – not gonna win too many games shooting like that.
  • Tim Duncan was involved in three of these jump balls.  I don’t know what that means, but I’m pretty sure it is important.

Tabascketball – Gorgeous Hot Sauce Tie

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This week’s find on Amazon is a combination of two fantastic things: Tabasco and Basketball.  Or – Tabascketball!  This hot sauce tie will make sure you get noticed – equally at home in church or on the dance floor.

All the kids will be sure to say you look like “straight fire.”  Or possibly they’ll say you are “lit”?  Or maybe just “What’s happening, hot stuff?”  Whatever the kids say these days – they’ll be saying it to you.

Fish Head to Head

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I tried to figure out which two players of the modern era have played against each other the most times.  I looked only at the last 30 years or so to keep the search simpler, but also because when there were fewer teams in the league, they played much more often.  For example, in the calendar year 1960, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain played 18 games against each other!

I searched around and couldn’t find anywhere this information existed.  So I did some research.  Assuming that to have the all-time record you’d need a lot of playoff games, I found the list of most playoff games played and started comparing players using Basketball Reference’s Head2Head tool.

The highest number of head to head games I could find is Derek Fisher and Tim Duncan, who have played each other in the regular season 49 times, and in the playoffs 47 times!

Though the number of wins is close (50-46 advantage for Fisher), unsurprisingly the stat contests easily favor Duncan.  He averaged nearly 19 points and 12 rebounds a game, while Fisher averaged about 12 points, 2 assists and less than 2 rebounds per game.

Fisher and Duncan faced each other in the playoffs 4 years in a row, from 2001 to 2004.

Courtesy of Basketball Reference

Glass Ownership

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Six teams since 1983 have outrebounded their opponents at least 15 regular season games in a row.

The Cleveland Cavaliers did it from Dec. 2007 to Jan. 2008, winning 12 out of 15 games. That year the team surrounded Lebron James with many great rebounders, including Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Drew Gooden, Anderson Varejao, and Ben Wallace.  During the streak they outrebounded their opponents 48.0 to 39.5.

The New Jersey Nets and Chicago Bulls both did it for 15 games during 1997, two teams at the opposite end of the spectrum.  The Nets won only 6 of the 15 games spanning two seasons.  Strangely, the streak began after the Nets lost their best rebounder, Jayson Williams, to injury. Eric Montross and Tony Massenburg stepped up and each averaged over 10 rebounds a game in his absence.

As for the Bulls, they won 13 of 15 games in the streak, on their way to the NBA Championship.  They outrebounded their opponents by over 10 a game, 48.8 to 37.7.  Dennis Rodman was the key to this streak, fetching over 14 rebounds a game.

The Utah Jazz have had two streaks of 16 games outrebounding their opponents – with two very different teams.  The first time was in 2002, with a team led in rebounding by a 38-year old Karl Malone.  This was not an exceptional rebounding team, only outrebounding their opponents by 4 a game over the season.  They won 8 of the 16 games.

The 2015 Utah Jazz team traded away Enes Kanter at the All-Star break, leaving space for Rudy Gobert to begin starting for the team.  After the trade, they outrebounded their opponents by almost 7 rebounds a game, with Gobert averaging over 13 rebounds per game.  This trade turned the season around for the Jazz, as they won 13 of the 16 games in the streak after starting the year 19-34.

But the best streak of all time belongs to one of the best teams of all time, the 1985-86 Boston Celtics.  They had a streak of 17 straight games outrebounding their opponents, winning 13 of them.  The team was lead, of course, by the talented trio of Bird, Parish and McHale, and went on to win the NBA Championship that year.

Courtesy of Basketball Reference

Under the Hill?

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As a companion to yesterday’s 40th birthday post, here are six players that played an NBA game on their 19th birthday (there are no players who played a game on their 18th birthday – the closest was Andrew Bynum, who played his first game when he was 18 years 6 days old).

Looking at the results, we see a possible reason why the NBA went away from drafting high schoolers.  Devin Booker (who has since scored 70 points in a game) played just two minutes and did not score.  Eddy Curry scored 5 points in 10 minutes, and Giannis Antetokounmpo had just 6 points in 20 minutes.  Martell Webster managed to clear double digits and score 10 points.  Unfortunately he only made 2 of 11 shots on his way there.

The only two notable performances came from high school phenoms in consecutive years.  On Dec. 30, 2003, Lebron James scored 22 points on 9-20 shooting, along with 10 rebounds and 4 assists.  And the next year on December 8th, Dwight Howard also completed a double-double, with 17 points and 11 rebounds on 6-10 shooting.  Not a bad birthday present to yourself!

Courtesy of Basketball Reference

Over the Hill?

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Since 1963, only 5 players have played an NBA basketball game on their 40th birthday.  Two of them, James Edwards and Jason Kidd, went for quality over quantity on their ruby anniversary. Each of them took and made just one shot.

Two of the others had eerily similar stat lines.  John Stockton and Steve Nash are both revered as point gods from their respective eras.  On his 40th, Stockton went for 20 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists.  In an apparent 40th birthday homage, Nash scored 19 points, corralled 4 rebounds and dished out 5 assists.

Of course, no discussion of NBA elder statesmen is complete without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  Kareem celebrated his official over-the-hill birthday with a fantastic game.  Besides a solid 15 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists, Kareem also snagged 2 steals and blocked 2 shots, proving that he was not finished being a solid contributor on both ends of the floor.

Courtesy of Basketball Reference

James Harden candy – Weird Beards

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Today’s find on Amazon is something incredible – a sour candy shaped like James Harden’s beard!  Everything about this is so great – the look on Harden’s face, the arm sticking out of his beard, and especially the quote from Trolli Candy’s Head of Brand Strategy, who says “James embodies the energy and essence of Trolli”.

I’m not sure exactly what the energy and essence of Trolli is, but Harden has a ton of essence, and James Harden candy will give you energy – so maybe that makes sense?

If you have Amazon Prime you can get this James Harden candy shipped free.  It comes with 12 bags, so they are only about $2 a bag – perfect for an NBA party or gifts for your friends.