Deron Williams took a pass from LeBron James around 10 seconds left in the NBA All-Star Game with the Eastern Conference trailing by two. Williams had three options: shoot the three, try to drive inside for an easier shot or pass it inside to someone who could jam it home. Williams chose to jack up the three, failing to hit the East's last field-goal attempt.
James took a pass off an offensive rebound, but lost the ball. Blake Griffin drew a foul and the game continued as it had, descending into a game of free throws.
Griffin hit one of two to bring the final score in favor of the Western Conference, 152-149.
What had turned into an interesting contest in the fourth quarter after the East pulled off a 31-12 rally to come within one point quickly lost its zest as the two teams employed regular season last-minute strategies. Dwight Howard and other Eastern Conference stars resorted to desperation fouls and misguided three-point shots.
The Western Conference used a couple of late possessions to bleed time off the clock.
This might have been a nice finish if this were a regular season game. However, this was supposed to be a fun exhibition.
The fun could have be restored to the All-Star Game if the NBA would make a couple of scoring changes for the purposes of the game. The NBA could decide to score dunks differently just for the All-Star Game. Dunks could be valued at four points. Thus, a dunk would be worth twice as much as a normal field goal inside 23 feet, nine inches.
By raising the value of the dunk for the All-Star Game, the NBA could acknowledge the value of the play that makes the All-Star Game what it is. People watch the All-Star Game for highlight reel dunks. A fade-away three-point shot is nice, but seeing Kevin Durant posterize Williams is what fans are looking for.
Also, the NBA could penalize players for missing dunks. Nothing is more dreadful than seeing Kobe Bryant miss a dunk. Bryant has to make it when all that is required is to squeeze the ball, jump and deposit in the basket by some artful means.
The team could be penalized one point for a missed dunk.
All other made field-goal attempts would be worth the same.
Now, to prevent teams from jacking up desperation three-point shots in the final minutes, the NBA could penalize teams one point for missed three-pointers. This would lead teams to both take higher percentage shots and go for the hair-raising dunks that fans want to see.
Teams might respond by playing the post a little more carefully, but then again, the All-Star Game doesn't involve much defense. The Western Conference wouldn't throw Marc Gasol in the game for an extra five to seven minutes just to keep LeBron James from slamming it 10 times.
The team can just throw Bryant on James to pretend to defend a potential dunk.
How would this have affected Sunday's All-Star Game, which had just the requisite 301 combined points?
The Western Conference drilled 17 dunks, which would have added 34 points. They missed 21 of 33 three-point attempts. That would have brought the West to 165 points.
The Eastern Conference put down 19 dunks and missed two, which would have added 36 points. They missed 18 of 32 three-point attempts. That would have brought the East to 167 points, which would have won them the game (all things being equal).
Alas, the Williams and his Eastern Conference teammates missed their chance to match their foes with the type of play that fans crave.
Maybe he would have pushed it inside if the NBA had done something to encourage it. The NBA could do something to fix it. All it has to do is put its money where its mouth is.
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