The game has changed a lot since the 1992-1993 N.B.A. season, when the New York Knicks finally eclipsed their nemesis, the Chicago Bulls, in the regular season, and finished first in the Eastern Conference; and actually seemed headed towards a knockout of the Central Division juggernaut and repeating N.B.A. champs from the Windy City and the league’s darlings, in that spring’s playoffs. The 1993 Knicks, with the home court advantage, actually jumped to a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, and the Bulls’ believed forthcoming (but unrealized) demise was encapsulated by a twisting, left-handed, John Starks, baseline thunderclap that has become a part of our modern hoops’ lore. “The Dunk,” as it has become known, was the result of a sideline hedge on a pick-and-roll by B.J. Armstrong, which left Starks an open lane to the rack and a dunk over Horace Grant and Michael Jordan.
But Starks’s dunk and the legendary series that also gave us this moment and this moment, has proved to have even longer tentacles than readily observed at first glance; with those 1993 Bulls’ on-the-fly strategy to counter the crucial pick-and-roll that led to the Starks stuff, becoming the cornerstone to the defenses of many teams in the league today. The:07 Seconds or Less, Mike D’Antoni, Phoenix Suns and their whirling dervish, Steve Nash, further necessitated advancements in the strategies to counteract basketball’s oldest play. And to think, the defensive strategies we see today have actually evolved from a defensive lapse by the 1993 Three-Peat Bulls. Beckley Mason of E.S.P.N.’s True Hoop breaks down just how we all got here: with the many offenses, primarily with elite scorers, going pick-and-roll in the waning moments — e.g. the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers — and the defenses they face almost uniformly forcing those offenses baseline.
A European player attempted 124 three-point shots in a game, making only 24 of them. While he made less than one in five, that’s a True Shooting Percentage of nearly 30%! The real upset is not that this happened, but that it happened in Lithuania, and not the Oracle Arena in Oakland, or a Don Nelson fever dream.
Missing one hundred three-pointers in one game! By the fourth quarter, was he just throwing baseball passes at the rim from halfcourt? Even John Starks saw this box score and said, “Dude, pull it back a little.” Meanwhile, in Charlotte, Stephen Jackson resolved to spend at least one year in Kaunas after his NBA career is over.