http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/insid...PERDiem-101110Jazz, Pacers score improbable feats
PER Diem, Nov. 10, 2010: Offensive explosions make Tuesday a night to remember
As amazing as the Jazz-Heat game was, it's only the second-most impressive feat that took place Tuesday night.
Top billing goes to the Indiana Pacers. Hosting a good Denver team, they exploded for 54 points in the third quarter -- briefly threatening the record for points in a quarter (58) held by the 1972-73 Buffalo Braves. (A fact, incidentally, that virtually assures a gratuitous Buffalo shout-out in Marc Stein's Weekend Dime).
Indiana was 20-for-20 in the third quarter before Josh McRoberts missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Indiana had only one turnover in the period, and its nine free throw attempts used only two possessions -- two free throws came on a flagrant foul, one on a technical foul, and the other six on 3-point fouls against Mike "Michael" Dunleavy.
Thus, the Pacers' 54-point explosion came on only 24 possessions ... for an offensive efficiency rating of 225.00. That's more than two points a trip -- so dunks and layups were bringing down the average.
Indy's quarter was only the fourth-most in history. But once you adjust for pace between eras, this was the most impressive performance in history. Every other high-scoring quarter happened in the NBA's "live-ball era" prior to 1990, when extra possessions made it easier to put up eye-popping scoring numbers. While the Pacers are a fast-paced team for the current era, they played the third quarter at a fairly casual 96-possession pace.
Wait, there's more:
• Of the 20 shots, eight were 3-pointers, including five by Dunleavy. Based on the shooters' career stats, the odds of Indy making eight consecutively were 2,818-to-1. The Dunleavy hot streak alone was hugely unlikely -- his odds of making five straight 3s were 175-to-1.
• Dunleavy scored 24 points in the quarter on seven shots and six free throw attempts, for a true shooting percentage of 124.5.
• The Pacers could have scored more but they gagged on three free throws. Dunleavy missed one of his six tries, and McRoberts missed both freebies after absorbing a flagrant foul from Al Harrington.
• If you take away the third quarter, Indiana still shot 53 percent.
• Entering the game, Indiana's 41.7 percent shooting mark ranked 27th in the NBA. This morning they're up to 15th.
• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there have been 396 quarters played this season, and the two teams combined to score fewer than 54 points in 273 of them, or 68.9 percent.
Yet all of that pales beside the one jaw-dropping stat that tops them all. The Pacers made 20 straight shots in the third quarter, and I'm not sure people appreciate how remarkably unusual that was.
Using Indiana's 45.7 percent mark on the season, the probability of their making 20 straight shots is ... 1-in-6,333,970.
Calling it "unlikely" is the understatement of the century. In all probability, you'll never see anything like this again, ever ... and your children, grandchildren and several generations of descendants won't, either.
NBA teams play 328 quarters a season, meaning 9,720 quarters leaguewide. So if the league stays at or near a 30-team alignment, you would have to watch every quarter of every game for about 643 years, on average, before again seeing a team rip off 20 straight made shots to start a period. If you were one of the 11,122 people in Conseco Fieldhouse Tuesday night, consider yourself lucky. (I was THERE!!!!!)
Thus, as improbable as Utah's rally was in Miami (only the fourth time in the past seven years that a team came from 20 down on the road in the second half, according Elias), it pales beside the Pacers' unprecedented eruption against the Nuggets. We'll see other unlikely shooters get hot this season, and we'll see more unexpected comebacks.
But 20 straight shots? You ain't ever seeing that again.