Pity the highlight makers
February, 10, 2012
By Henry Abbott
HoopIdea is off and running with a determination to make NBA crunch time faster.
A few hours after that post went up, the Kings and Thunder underscored the importance of reform.
On paper the game was exciting. One of the best teams in the league playing one of the worst. Somehow it was tied with two minutes left, and, in a delight for underdog-lovers everywhere, the maligned Kings pulled out the signature win of what may yet prove to be their final season in Sacramento.
Somehow, though, it was miserable entertainment nonetheless. Watch those highlights above, and notice that the only clip from the final two minutes was a Kevin Durant miss. Trust me when I tell you the video editors didn't skip anything good.
Know how many buckets the victorious Kings made in surging ahead over the last two minutes?
None. Not one.
It's not that the Kings missed a lot of field goal attempts. It's that except for a DeMarcus Cousins missed 3, they didn't attempt any. Not officially anyway. What they did was attempt to get fouled -- and that succeeded thanks to some disputed, home-friendly calls, followed by lots of arguing and further delays.
By my count the last two minutes had 17 possessions from the two teams combined. A mighty two of those 17 ended in the thing most fans want to see -- an actual made basket. They were both by Russell Westbrook, the point guard for the visiting team. Durant missed a couple of 3s, Daequan Cook missed another, the Thunder had three turnovers.
But the main thing those highlight makers had to edit out of crunch time was the twelve (twelve!) Kings free throw attempts in the final two minutes. They decided the game, and were decidedly unentertaining.
Yesterday I asked people to put a clock on the final two minutes of close NBA games. With three timeouts and all those free throws, this was yet another game where the last two minutes took more than 15 minutes of real time.
The result was a delight for the home team. But the process was a poor use of the talented and creative athletes on the court, who spent the vast majority of the time standing around.