There were 11 NBA games on the slate on Wednesday, March 12th, with 11 teams eclipsing the century mark in scoring. The high-scoring team was the Denver Nuggets, who posted 120 points in a victory over the Orlando Magic, which recorded 112 points in the loss. Four other teams scored at least 110 points. The average score for the 22 squads in action was 100.6 points, with teams producing 14 40-point quarters.
Additionally, a little history was made in the first quarter of the Dallas Mavericks’ 108-101 win over the Utah Jazz. Not surprisingly, it had to do with scoring: Dirk Nowitzki passed John Havlicek for 12th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Wednesday night was what has become this season a fairly typical evening in the NBA; the league has become very offensive … and in a very complimentary way. Consider the evidence.
Through games played March 12th, NBA teams were averaging 100.8 points. Last season, teams averaged 98.1 points. Should teams maintain their current average for the full season, the 2.7 point-per-game differential between this season and last would represent the biggest jump in league scoring average since 2004-05, when teams scored 3.8 points per game more than the previous season (97.2-93.4).
Seventeen teams are averaging 100.0-plus points. The 1993-94 season was the last time at least that many teams averaged triple-digit scoring. With a little more than a month remaining in the regular season, two other teams – the Sixers (99.8 ppg) and New Orleans Pelicans (99.4 ppg) -- are the cusp of averaging 100.0 points. Looking at scoring in terms of offensive ratings (points allowed per 100 possessions), 24 teams are boasting triple-digit numbers.
Following are the NBA’s top 10 scoring teams through games played March 12.
10 Denver Nuggets: 103.6 ppg
Several high-scoring teams spread the scoring wealth. Denver is one of those teams. The Nuggets bench has been a huge factor in the team’s success so far this season. Denver’s starters average between 11.6 and 18.6 points, with Ty Lawson setting the pace, and the Nuggets’ bench ranks third in the NBA in scoring at 38.6 ppg. The Nuggets have had 10 players lead the team in scoring this season, with Lawson, one of only four players in the league averaging at least 18.0 points and 8.0 assists, leading with 20 ppg. Twelve times this season, the second unit has produced Denver’s game-high scorer. The Nuggets are 25-12 when they hit the century mark and 17-3 when scoring at least 110.
9 Miami Heat: 104.0 ppg
The Heat, this season, has reached the century mark in 42 of 61 contests, going 35-7 when hitting triple digits. But, let’s face it, a team with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade better be on this list. Since teaming up in Miami in 2010, the three have each scored at least 20 points in the same game 36 times, with the Heat winning 51 one of those games. The trio has accomplished the feat five times this season and Miami has won each time. Among active leaders in total points, James ranks eighth (22,673), Wade is 13th (17,321) and Bosh is 21 points shy of becoming the 24th current player to score 15,000 points.
8 Dallas Mavericks: 104.2 ppg
All of sudden, Dirk Nowitzki (21.3 ppg) and Monta Ellis (18.9) have help on the offensive end. Since the Mavericks reacquired Devon Harris on January 18th, to bolster the team’s bench, Dallas’ reserves are averaging 41.2 points (ranks third in the league in that span), with Harris contributing 7.9 ppg in only 18.5 points per game. On the season, Dallas has five players averaging at least 10.0 points, and the team is 11-1 this season when they have at least six players score in double figures. The Mavericks heat up fast, ranking third in the league in first quarter scoring, averaging 27.4 point. Dallas is 17-9 this season when scoring at least 30 in the first stanza. Overall, the Mavericks are 33-16 this season when they score 100-plus points
7 San Antonio Spurs: 104.6 ppg
No other team shares the scoring load quite the Spurs, with nine players averaging between 8.2 and 17.8 points. Their leading scoring, Tony Parker, ranks 37th in the NBA. Not surprisingly, San Antonio has the league’s highest scoring bench at 44.7 ppg. And San Antonio’s offense isn’t exactly a one-trick pony. The team ranks second in assists (25.0 apg) and field goal percentage (.489), and first in three-point field goal percentage (.395). San Antonio recorded 15 straight games with 100-or-more points (Dec. 26, 2013 –Jan. 26, 2014), marking the longest such streak under Gregg Popovich and the longest streak in the NBA this season. For the season, the Spurs are 37-9 when scoring at least 100 points. If the Mavericks start hot, the Spurs end games scalding, ranking first in NBA in points scored in the fourth quarter (27.1 ppg). Parker ranks seventh in NBA in fourth quarter scoring, averaging 5.9 points.
6 Phoenix Suns: 105.5 ppg
Death. Taxes. Phoenix scoring a ton of points. Regardless of the roster, the Suns always seem to be among the league’s highest scoring teams. This season is no different, as arguably the biggest surprise in the NBA continues to score. A lot. The Suns, 32-11 when reaching the century mark, are averaging 124.3 points in their last three wins. Clog up the middle against them? They are tied for third in the NBA with 9.4 three-point makes per game and eighth with a .376 mark from long range. Miss a lot of shots against Phoenix? The Suns rank first in the NBA with 19.0 fast break points per game and have scored at least 20 fast break points in 31 of 63 games. Neutralize their starters? The Suns rank fifth in the NBA with 37.7 bench points per game and are 18-7 at home this season (27-14 overall) when outscoring the opponent’s reserves.
5 Oklahoma City Thunder: 105.8 ppg
Having your best player score 30-plus on a nightly basis is one way of getting on this list. Kevin Durant, who is pacing the league in scoring at 31.9 ppg, has scored at least 25 points in 29 straight games, tying his longest such streak. How rare is this? He is the only player in the last two and a half decades to record a stretch of 25-plus points in 29 consecutive games. And he’s done it twice. That, however, belies how well-rounded OKC’s offense is. Twenty times this season, the Thunder has had at least five players scoring in double figures, and OKC has been victorious in 18 of those contests. As the Thunder continues to prove, it helps a team’s bottom line to make the freebies. Through 63 games, OKC is the third best free throw shooting team in the NBA, converting 80.3 percent of its attempts from the charity stripe.
4 Minnesota Timberwolves: 106.3 ppg
No team on this list is more dependent on hitting the century mark than the Timberwolves. Minnesota is 28-16 when scoring 100-plus points compared with 3-15 when scoring less than 100 points. Through 62 games this season, Minnesota is averaging almost 12.0 ppg more than after the same number of games last season: 106.3 ppg-94.5 ppg. The Wolves have cracked the 130-point plateau five times this season; tallied 120-plus points on 10 occasions, the most for a single season in club annals; and posted a club-record-tying 10 wins by at least 30 points. The difference between this season and last is a healthy Kevin Love. Love, who is averaging a team-high 26.5 points, had a recent run of six straight 30-plus-point outings. Love has topped 30 points in 11 of his last 18 starts, and already recorded a franchise-best 21 such games this season,
3 Houston Rockets: 106.5 ppg
The Rockets are an NBA-best 23-7 in 2014, including 22-0 when hitting the century mark in points, the longest such streak in franchise history and the longest streak of its kind in the NBA this season. Like its intrastate rival Dallas, Houston starts games strong. The Rockets have outscored their opponents by 200 points (+3.1 ppg) in the first quarter this season, the largest point differential for any team in the opening stanza of a game. Houston owns a record of 14-2 this season when all five starters net 10-plus points; however, the team gets the bulk of its points from three players: James Harden, Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons.
2 Portland Trail Blazers: 107.2 ppg
The Trail Blazers only recently fell from the top spot. Still, 107.2 ppg ain’t that bad. Portland is averaging 109.9 points in its 42 wins compared to 102.4 points in its 23 losses. The Trail Blazers scored at least 98 points in 29 straight games (Nov. 22-Jan. 21), the longest streak since Golden State went 37 games (Jan. 11-March 30, 2008). Portland averages 107-plus points thanks to lots of long-distance bombs (9.3 treys per game) and the emergence of forward LaMarcus Aldridge (team- and career-high 23.4 ppg) as a bonafide superstar. Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum have combined for 437 three-pointers this season, more than six NBA teams have made all season. Twice this season, Portland has recorded a franchise record 21 treys, becoming the first NBA team ever to record at least 21 3-pointers twice in one season.
1 Los Angeles Clippers: 107.9 ppg
The Warriors have been one of the NBA’s better defensive teams this year, ranking third overall in defensive rating, allowing only 99.1 points per 100 possessions. The Clippers put up 111 points (a 112.6 defensive rating) in a win – their ninth straight -- over the Warriors Wednesday. L.A. is averaging 115.0 points during its win streak, and netted a team-high 142 ppints in a 48-point drubbing over their intra-arena foe, the Lakers, on March 6th. In the win over Golden State, Blake Griffin (30 points) paced seven Clippers in double-digit scoring as he extended his team-record 20-plus-point games to 22 straight. The team improved to 14-0 when all five starters reach double-digit scoring. And L.A.’s record when the Clippers score at least 104 points is 37-3 compared with a 10-17 mark when they fail to reach that total.