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Inside the NBA numbers: Lots of comebacks, no home-court edge, 3s went up, scoring went down

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Inside the NBA numbers: Lots of comebacks, no home-court edge, 3s went up, scoring went down
April 14, 2024
TIM REYNOLDS - AP

It was the year of the comeback in the NBA.

Teams rallied from at least 20 points down to win on 38 occasions in the regular season that concluded Sunday, by far the most in NBA history.

The previous record for wins after trailing by 20 or more in a game was 30, set last season.

To put in some perspective how different this era is, consider that in 2008-09 there were only eight successful comebacks from deficits of 20 or more.

Sacramento was involved in seven such games this season. The Kings had three wins after trailing by at least 20 — and four losses after leading by at least that many.

The league had two instances this season of games in which both teams led by at least 20 points. The Los Angeles Clippers led Minnesota 57-35 on March 12 — before getting outscored 83-39 and falling into a 22-point hole on the way to a 118-100 loss.

And on Jan. 9, Detroit led Sacramento 47-27 in the first quarter. The Kings outscored the Pistons 104-63 the rest of the way, winning 131-110 and sending Detroit to its 34th loss in 37 games to that point.

SCORING DOWN

Scoring wound up decreasing this season by 1 point per game compared to last year, thanks to a slowdown that came after the All-Star break.

Teams scored 280,960 points this season, or 114.2 per game. That's down from last year's numbers of 282,127 points and 114.7 per game.

At the All-Star break this season, teams averaged 115.5 points per game. But after the break, that average went to 111.6 — largely because fewer fouls were called (38.8 per game before the break, 34.8 after) and that led to a significant drop in free throws (45.3 per game before the break, 39.7 after).

Fewer free throws, fewer points.

3 IS WILD, AGAIN

For the 10th time in the last 12 seasons, the NBA saw more 3-pointers than ever before.

Reversing a bit of a trend — 3-pointers per game actually dropped slightly in each of the last two seasons — a record number of shots from beyond the arc were made this season. The league finished with 31,579 3-pointers, or 12.8 per game. That broke the previous marks of 30,598 makes (set in 2021-22) and 12.7 per game (set in 2020-21).

There were 23 players who made more than 200 3-pointers this season, another record. The previous mark was 20, set last season.

NO ADVANTAGE

Home-court advantage really isn't a thing anymore.

NBA teams went 668-562 at home this season — and that winning percentage is the worst home-court mark in league history.

This year's winning percentage was .5431, barely back of the .5435 percentage set in 2020-21.

Teams lost home games by at least 10 points 283 times this season, topping the mark of 272 set two years ago.

LOTS OF BLOWOUTS

The average margin of victory in the NBA this season was 12.6 points, yet another new mark. It topped the mark of 12.4 points set two seasons ago.

Boston had 42 wins by at least 10 points this season, by far the most in the league. New Orleans, New York, Minnesota and Oklahoma City all had 32.

THE OLDEST PLAYER

LeBron James had the best season ever turned in by the league's oldest player.

The Los Angeles Lakers' forward averaged 25.7 points this season. That's a record for the “oldest player” in the league in a given season, topping the 23.4 points that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — who was nearly 39 when that season ended — averaged in 1985-86.

The only other time an oldest player in a season averaged 20 points was 1984-85, when Abdul-Jabbar put up 22.0 per game.

On average, the oldest player in a season has averaged 7.7 points per game.

James finished the season with 40,474 career points, 2,087 more than Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387. This is the first time a season ended with someone more than 2,000 points ahead of anyone else on the all-time list since 2002-03, when Abdul-Jabbar was 2,013 ahead of Karl Malone.

James entered the league the following season.

THE STREAK CONTINUES

Brooklyn's Mikal Bridges still hasn't missed an NBA game in his six seasons.

Bridges played in his 474th consecutive regular-season game Sunday, extending what is, by far, the longest current run in the NBA — Sacramento's Harrison Barnes has played in 222 in a row.

Including games at Villanova and NBA playoff games, Bridges has played in 629 out of a possible 629 games since entering college. He didn't miss any games with USA Basketball last summer either when he was on the World Cup team, and last missed a game as a junior in high school because of sickness — and yes, he tried to play that night, too.

Bridges technically missed a game last season, but it didn’t count against him. He was traded to Brooklyn and not eligible to play by game time, so was listed as “inactive — trade pending” in the official box score. The NBA ruled that it would not count as a missed game because he wasn’t eligible.

BUDDY BALL

NBA teams play 82 games in a season, usually. Buddy Hield played 84 this season.

Hield started the season with Indiana and appeared in 52 games with the Pacers. He was traded to Philadelphia in February and appeared in the 76ers' final 32 games.

Hield became the first player to appear in 84 games in a regular season since Casey Jacobsen did it in 2004-05, playing in 44 for New Orleans and 40 more for Phoenix.

MORE ASSISTS

Even though scoring dropped slightly this season, assists did not.

A record 65,610 assists were handed out this year, the third straight year in which the final total was higher than ever before. The previous record: 62,279 last season.

But the real story was the number per game. The league saw 26.7 per team, per game this season — breaking the mark of 26.3 that was set in the 1984-85 season.

46 WINS

There were 18 teams — 60% of the league — finishing with at least 46 wins this season. That's another record and ensures that at least two teams (possibly as many as four, depending on how the play-in tournament goes) with that many wins won't make the playoffs.

There hasn't been a season in which two different 46-win teams didn't reach the playoffs since 1972.

Only eight teams — 27% of the league — reached the 46-win mark last season.

5 FOR 5

Luka Doncic led the league in total points scored this season, the fifth different player in the last five years to achieve that. Preceding him, in order: Jayson Tatum, Trae Young, Stephen Curry and James Harden.

It's the longest streak of having a different player lead the league in total points since it happened in six straight seasons, spanning 1999-2000 through 2004-05. Those six players were Shaquille O'Neal, then Jerry Stackhouse, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Allen Iverson.

Kevin Durant is the most recent player to achieve the feat in five consecutive seasons, from 2009-10 to 2013-14.

SO MANY GRIZZLIES

Memphis used 33 players this season, the most by any team in NBA history. And the Grizzlies used 51 different starting lineups, the most since starting fives across the NBA started being tracked 54 seasons ago.

All 33 players who got into games for the Grizzlies scored. And that doesn't even count Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo, who were on Memphis' roster for a time. Neither played this season because of injuries.

Detroit used 31 players this season.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA

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