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Josh Smith Notches 4th-Worst Single-Game FT Shooting Performance in NBA History

Mar 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Detroit Pistons small forward Josh Smith (6) is ejected from the game in the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 118-109. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 22, 2014

Josh Smith's free-throw stroke was anything but Smoove on Friday night.

The Detroit Pistons forward has struggled throughout the 2013-14 season, but he took those woes to a new level on Friday night during a loss to the Phoenix Suns. Not only did he shoot 7-of-19 from the field, but he threw a bounce pass to someone in the first row with the game on the line during the waning portion of the fourth quarter and almost made history at the charity stripe. 

Smith stepped up to the free-throw line eight times during the 98-92 loss to Phoenix. And the ball clanged off the iron without dropping through the net on eight separate occasions. 

Even in a league that boasts the services of Dwight Howard and Andre Drummond, this isn't something that happens too often. In fact, only three players have ever taken more attempts from the line without finding the bottom of the net even once, according to Basketball-Reference

LOS ANGELES - JUNE 4:  Shaquille O'Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers concentrates while shooting a free throw during Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on June 4, 2000 in Los Angeles, California.
Tom Hauck/Getty Images

Back in 2000, Shaquille O'Neal managed to go 0-of-11 from the stripe. That remains the absolute worst outing in the history of the Association, and it's only fitting that the Big Diesel is the one who lays claim to such an ignominious performance. 

Then we have Truck Robinson and Wilt Chamberlain, both of whom put up 0-of-9 games at some point in their very different careers. Robinson did so in 1980, and "The Stilt" did so 13 years earlier. 

After that, there's a whole host of names who managed to go 0-of-8. And after Friday night, it's a list of basketball luminaries that now includes Smith: 

  • Josh Smith, 2014
  • Andre Drummond, 2014
  • Nene, 2011
  • Tyson Chandler, 2004
  • Dale Davis, 1998
  • Eric Montross, 1995
  • Chris Gatling, 1994
  • Jerome Lane, 1992
  • Elvin Hayes, 1972

That's it. 

Of course, there have been quite a few bad outings that did involve a single made free throw. 

Chris Dudley actually managed to go 1-of-18 from the stripe during a 1990 outing, per Basketball-Reference. How did he end up at the lane that many times? You might too if your fellow starters were Purvis Short, Lester Connor, Chris Morris and Jack Haley. 

John Lambert—a role player for the Cleveland Cavaliers during the late 1970s and then a journeyman in the early '80s, since I know you're wondering—and Wilt have both gone 1-of-13. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the only player in NBA history to make only one out of a dozen attempts, as he somehow did 11 years into his professional career. 

BOSTON - 1968:  Wilt Chamberlain #13 of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots a free throw against the Boston Celtics during a game played in 1968 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloa
Dick Raphael/Getty Images

No matter where you look, you can find embarrassing performances from the free-throw line. There's something about standing 15 feet from the hoop and having the whole arena focused only on you that seems to lend itself to atrocious shooting. 

Now you could make a convincing argument that Dudley's performance was worse than Smith's against the Suns, but there's just something about having a goose egg that leads to laughter and/or pity, depending on your rooting interests. 

Going into Friday night, Basketball-Reference shows that J-Smoove had managed to record that zero in the make column (with at least one attempt) on 47 separate occasions. Only three times had he done so while taking at least five shots, and his worst performance was an 0-of-7 game against the New York Knicks during the very end of his time with the Atlanta Hawks

He topped himself on March 21. Any bets on how long it takes before we see 0-of-9? 

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