The NBA will probably use a target score again in next year’s All-Star Game, president of league operations Byron Spruell tells Zach Lowe of ESPN.
Based on the “Elam Ending,” the concept got rave reviews for bringing excitement and intensity to the end of this year’s game, which Team LeBron won 157-155 over Team Giannis. Spruell said the league hasn’t officially approved anything for next season, but there is strong sentiment for keeping the format.
After the third quarter of Sunday’s game, a target score was set at 24 points above the score of the team with the lead. There was no clock for the final quarter and the game continued until one team reached that mark.
Spruell said the original plan was to set the target score 38 points above the third quarter total, which has been the average fourth-quarter score per team since the current All-Star format was adopted. That figure was later reduced to 35 and then to 24 in honor of Kobe Bryant. Spruell said next year’s total will probably be higher, even though this year’s fourth quarter took 39 minutes to play and stretched over the equivalent of 15 minutes of game time. A television timeout is also being considered, and the rules may be adjusted so the game can’t end on a free throw.
The Elam Ending has been popularized through a pair of summer ventures, The Basketball Tournament and The BIG3 League. Chris Paul, president of the players’ union, coached a team in TBT last year and suggested it as a way to make the All-Star Game more competitive. Its debut received an overwhelmingly positive response.
“The intensity popped,” Spruell said. “The guys really bought in.”
He added that consideration will be given to bringing the target score to the G League, but was pessimistic about its implementation. The NBA wants G League games to resemble its own as much as possible to serve as a training ground for players, coaches and referees.
Spruell said NBA officials will discuss adopting the target score for elimination rounds of a proposed mid-season tournament, adding that a Board of Governors vote on that and a play-in tournament for the bottom two playoff spots in each conference could happen in September.