Shooting for the Playoffs
It's a simple game. Whoever scores the most points wins. And come playoff time, whoever can win four games first, wins. And for the other team, it's wait 'til next year.
The seventh-seeded Denver Nuggets got a big boost off the bench from Earl Boykins Nov. 11. The 5-5 guard scored 32 points in 33 minutes versus Detroit despite suffering a dislocated middle finger on his shooting hand in the first quarter.
In setting the career-high, Boykins became the shortest player in NBA history to score 30-plus points. The distinction previously had been held by 5-7 Spud Webb, who eclipsed the plateau on four occasions during his career.
Speaking of Motown, the Detroit Pistons' Rip Hamilton pulled off a similarly impressive feat against Memphis on Jan. 6.
Using his trademark off the ball movement to free himself from opponents, Hamilton consistently drew trips to the charity stripe, where he knocked down all 14 of his shots. Unfortunately for the six-year vet, while his set shot was falling, his jump shot was not.
Hamilton went 0-for-10 from the field, making him the first player in NBA history to lead his team in scoring in a game without making a field goal.
Twelve days later, versus Washington, fourth-seeded Dallas found an interesting way to celebrate the teamís 25th anniversary. For the first time in franchise history, four Mavericks scored 25 or more points (Jerry Stackhouse, 29; Dirk Nowitzki, 28; Jason Terry, 26; Michael Finley 25) as Dallas accumulated the highest scoring total in the league this season, 137 points.
It was only the third time since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77 that a team had four players score 25-plus points in the same game. Don Nelsonís Golden State Warriors achieved the feat during the 1989-90 campaign, while the infamously high-scoring Nuggets accomplished it in 1987-88.
The highest scoring squad on the season was Phoenix (110.4 ppg). The Suns, who were also the owner of the NBA's best record, did much of their damage from downtown Ė an historic amount to be exact.
The Suns broke the NBA single-season record for most three-point field goals in a season with 796, surpassing the 1995-96 Mavericks, which featured the three J's (Jim Jackson, Jason Kidd and Jamal Mashburn), by 61.
Of the teams that finished in the top 10 in the NBA in scoring in the regular season this year, eight reached the playoffs. In other words, stay tuned, there's more to come.