Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NBA Scoring at Low Point

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NBA Scoring at Low Point

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- The basket isn't any smaller and the ball isn't any bigger.

So, why can't these NBA guys shoot?

"Neither team could throw a pea in the ocean," Charlotte guard Baron Davis said after the Hornets and the Miami Heat flirted with a record for futility.

The teams combined for just 121 points Wednesday night in a 65-56 Hornets victory, two more than Boston and Milwaukee scored between them on Feb. 27, 1955. That's the record since the league went to a 24-second shot clock for the 1954-55 season.

Last week, the New York Knicks scored a franchise-low 58 points in a loss to Utah.

The NBA said it wasn't worried about declining point totals. Executive vice president Stu Jackson says scoring is down by only four points per game from the end of last season -- hardly a nightly exhibition of airballs -- in a league where teams combine for an average of 186.1 points.

"Typically, scoring does increase as the year progresses, so I would expect that gap to narrow," he said.

In the game at Charlotte, in which Miami recorded the fourth-lowest total since the inception of the clock, both teams were far below the league average for field- goal percentage.

And the game may have been further evidence that defense has become the staple of the league. Seven of the eight lowest-output games have come since 1992.

Jackson says good defense is more responsible than bad shooting. The league is shooting .437 percent this season after finishing the last at .449.

On Wednesday night, Charlotte shot .371. Miami was even more dreadful at .292. The record high percentage is .545 by the 1984-85 Los Angeles Lakers.

"It can be argued that the players are quicker and stronger, and that there is an increased focus on defensive play," Jackson said, calling it a major change from the period between 1983-96, when the league scoring average was about 220.4 points per game. "I think the focus has changed."

But has it changed for the better? …

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