Monday, December 13, 2010

December 13, 1983: Run and gun

DENVER - Under Doug Moe, the Denver Nuggets of the 1980s had a very simple philosophy: try to score as quickly and as often as possible. Defense be damned, the Nuggets instead tried to simply put up an astronomical number on the scoreboard and hoped their opponents couldn't keep up. This often worked when the games were played in Denver, where opponents not used to the thin air often wore down in the second half, but it usually didn't work on the road, where teams always need to be able to make a defensive stop to win a game.

Either way, Moe's brand of basketball was always entertaining at the very least. The Nuggets routinely led the league in both points scored and points allowed. And no game displayed their brand of basektball better than their December 13, 1983, matchup with the Pistons.

The two teams started scoring early and often, playing through regulation and three overtime periods. When the dust finally settled, the score was stunning: Detroit 186, Denver 184. It remains the highest-scoring NBA game in history, and the offenseive numbers are jaw-dropping.

Four players - two from each team - reached the 40-point plateau, and 12 players reached double-figures in scoring. Dan Issel scored 28 points for Denver but was outscored by five players on the floor that night. The teams combined to shoot 57 percent from the floor and committed a combined 87 fouls. Four players fouled out for the Nuggets, with Detroit makign 37 of 60 foul shots. If the Pistons had improved their free-throw percentage to 81 percent - a fairly reasonable number - they would have reached 200 points.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this game was the three-point shooting, or lack thereof. Each team only made one basket from beyond the arc, meaning they had to get all their points inside. Considering the lack of defense exhibited all nigth, that wasn't asking too much.

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