To say that the three-point shot has become an important part of the NBA would be a severe understatement. The Houston Rockets recently took it to the next level in their November 25 win over Sacramento.
In that game, the Rockets launched (pun intended) 50 three-point shots, a new NBA record for most three-point shot attempts in a game. In fact, the Rockets were 21-for-50 from beyond the three-point line and were 19-for-35 from inside the three-point line in the contest.
It was the second time in less than two weeks that the Rockets as a team had attempted 45 or more threes in a game (they also did it on November 12, attempting 47 threes) in a loss to San Antonio.
Since the three-pointer became a staple in the NBA, there have now been 19 times when a team attempted 45 or more threes in a game. It’s interesting to note that two teams have each done it five times and account for half of the 19 games; the Rockets and Golden State Warriors have each had five games where they attempted 45 or more threes in a game.
The first such game was in the 1995-96 season when the Dallas Mavericks attempted 49 threes in a game. The Mavs are the only other team that has attempted 45 or more threes in a game multiple times (they have done it twice). Seven teams have done it once in their history: Boston, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers, New York Knicks, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Utah. The Mavs have also found themselves on the other end of this stat… teams have attempted 45 or more threes against them three times, tied with the Memphis Grizzlies for most.
Here’s a look at a few more stats on teams that have attempted 45 or more threes in an NBA game:
- Teams that attempted 45 or more threes in a game have won only six and lost 13.
- The 45 or more three-point attempts have happened in four overtime games of the 19.
- Nine of the 19 were by home teams, 10 by the road team.
- Best three-point percentage of the 19 teams that attempted 45-plus was .467 by the Warriors on March 25, 2016; worst three-point percentage of the 19 teams was .2000 by the Rockets on February 11, 2015.
One final note: Since the Rockets and Warriors are two of the teams that seem to be leading this three-point frenzy, you would think their games would feature a boatload of threes. Last season in three games the two teams combined for 49, 53 and 67 threes. That last contest on February 9, 2016, saw Golden State attempt 34 threes and the Rockets try 33. The two teams face off for the first time this season this coming Thursday, December 1. Be sure to check the box scores the next morning.
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Houston Rockets guard James Harden currently leads the NBA in points per game with a 27.7 average. Should Harden finish the season as the league’s top scorer, he would be the first Houston Rockets player to win a scoring title. But he would not, however, be the first player from that franchise to win a scoring title.
The Houston Rockets came into existence in the NBA in 1971-72 after three years of the franchise being in San Diego as the San Diego Rockets. In the 1968-69 season, San Diego’s second year in the league, Rockets player Elvin Hayes led the NBA in scoring that season with a 28.4 ppg. It was the last (and only) time a player from the Rockets franchise has won a scoring title.
Looking at the current list of players in the Top 10 for scoring, there are a few other players who could give their franchise their first individual scoring title in a long time (if ever). Center Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans, is currently third in the league in scoring. A scoring title by Davis would be the first by a Pelican player since the franchise came into the league in 2003. Golden State’s Steph Curry is a Top 10 scorer with a 22.8 ppg. The Warriors franchise last scoring title was in 1967 when Rick Barry led the San Francisco warriors (and the league) with a 35.6 average.
Here’s a look at the last time each NBA had a player lead the league in scoring.
Teams that have never had a player win the scoring title (franchise’s first year in the NBA)
Boston (1947) Washington (1962) Phoenix (1969) Portland (1971) Brooklyn (1977) Indiana (1977) Dallas (1981) Charlotte (1989) Minnesota (1990) Memphis (1996) Toronto (1996) New Orleans (2003)
Teams that had a player win the NBA scoring title (last title year)
Detroit (1958) Golden State (1967, as San Francisco Warriors) Houston (1969, as San Diego Rockets) Milwaukee (1972) Sacramento (1973 as K.C.-Omaha Kings) L.A. Clippers (1976 as Buffalo Braves) Denver (1983) Utah (1984) Atlanta (1986) San Antonio (1994) Chicago (1998) Orlando (2004) Philadelphia (2005) L.A. Lakers (2007) Cleveland (2008) Miami (2009) New York Knicks (2013) Oklahoma City (2014)
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks will be making his debut as an NBA Finals coach when the series starts on Tuesday. Brooks was, however, a player the 1994 Houston Rockets who won the title over the New York Knicks. Brooks, who averaged 5.2 PPG in 73 games in the 1993-94 regular season, did not play in that finals series. He did play in five playoff games in ’94 scoring 11 points.
As a head coach, Brooks becomes the 54th coach to make his debut in the NBA Finals. What is not certain is will he be facing a coach who has already won a title (Doc Rivers with the Celtics in 2008) or a coach who has been to the Finals but has not won a championship (Erik Spoelstra with the Heat last year)?
If past history is any indication, Brooks may want to face Miami and Spoelstra: In 22 title series, a coach making his NBA Finals debut has faced off against a coach who has won a title. The team with the coach that has won the title has won 18 of those series. When a first-year finals coach has faced a coach who has been to the finals but has not won the title, the first-year coach’s team has won three times and lost twice.
Here’s a look at the coaching match-ups for the NBA Finals in the 65-year history of the league:
A first-year NBA Finals coach vs. a first-year NBA Finals coach: 13 times
A coach who has won a NBA title vs. a first-year NBA Finals coach: 22 times (the team with the coach who had previously won an NBA championship won 18 of those 22).
A first-year NBA finals coach vs. a coach who has been to the NBA Finals but has not won a title: Five times (The first-year NBA finals coach has won three of the five)
A coach who has won an NBA title vs. a coach who has been to the NBA Finals but has not won a title: 17 times (The coach who had won a title won 10 of the 17 series).
A coach who has been to the NBA Finals but has not won a title vs. a coach who has been to the NBA Finals but has not won a title: 0 times.
Two coaches who have each won an NBA title: Eight times.
In looking at the coaching matchups over the past 20 years, 12 of the 20 title series have seen a first-year coach in the NBA Finals face-off against a coach who has previously won a championship. The coach with the title has won 10 of those 12 series. In fact, of the last 21 NB A Finals series, the team with a coach who had previously won the title has won 16 of those 21 series.
If Brooks and the Thunder win the title against the Celtics, Brooks would become the fifth first-year NBA Finals coach to defeat a coach who had won a title. They four who have accomplished this feat:
1948: Buddy Jeannette, first-year in NBA Finals with Baltimore, defeated Eddie Gottlieb and Philadelphia.
1974: Tom Heinsohn, first-year in NBA Finals with Boston, defeated Larry Costello and Milwaukee.
1994: Rudy Tomjanovich, first-year in NBA Finals with Houston, defeated Pat Riley and the New York Knicks.
2008: Doc Rivers, first-year in NBA Finals with Boston, defeated Phil Jackson and the L.A. Lakers.
Twenty different coaches have won the NBA championship in their first year in the finals. Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle accomplished this last year in his first year coaching in the NBA Finals. In the last 25 years, five coaches won the NBA title in their first year coaching in the championship series: Carlisle (2011), Rivers (2008), Greeg Popovich (1999), Tomjanovich (1994) and Phil Jackson (1991).
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