After a wildly successful 2020 All-Star Game, the NBA is planning to continue with the target-score ending for next year's contest.
NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell told ESPN's Zach Lowe that it's a "good assumption" that the target score will return.
Also known as the Elam Ending, a target score aims to eliminate incessant fouling and other issues that sometimes hamper the end of basketball games. It was first implemented in The Basketball Tournament, which eliminates the clock at the 4:00 mark and adds eight points to the leading team's score to create the target total. The BIG3 also uses its own version of a target score (25 points for the first half and 50 points to end the game).
A target score was the most popular and successful rule change the NBA implemented to the All-Star Game this year. The league also turned each individual quarter into a "game" within itself, with proceeds going to charity at the end of each quarter. After three quarters, the scores were combined traditionally and the game played out to a target score.
The NBA used 24 points for its target score in honor of Kobe Bryant, who was one of nine people who died in a January plane crash that also took the life of his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. Spruell said the NBA would likely choose a higher number for a target score in the future and incorporate a television timeout. The fourth quarter of the 2020 game was played without commercials.
While the league is still tinkering with target scores—there has been talk of implementing it into the G League, according to Lowe—it clearly added a qualitative and competitive element to the All-Star Game.
Team LeBron's 157-155 victory over Team Giannis was perhaps the greatest All-Star Game in history and certainly the most competitive in recent memory. The target score gave the players in the game a goal, and tensions mounted to a playoff atmosphere as the teams drew close.
Spruell did add that the league is considering making it so a game has to end on a made shot, rather than a free throw. Anthony Davis got Team LeBron to the target score after being fouled by Kyle Lowry.