Damian LillardDonovan MitchellGiannis AntetokounmpoKobe BryantLuka DoncicMichael JordanWilt Chamberlain

Lenny the Loser Says Bet the Over in This Scoreathon of an NBA Season

The passing of the great and regal Bill Russell last year was a somber moment in NBA history. Russell didn’t merely play defense, he attacked it. He thought it.

Most important, he made his opponents think about it.

“The idea is not to block every shot,” he once said. “The idea is to make your opponent believe that I might block every shot.”

Not many players have to think about having their shots blocked in 2023. Scoring is out of control in the NBA. The league average is 114.2 points per team, up from 110.6 last season. It’s the greatest increase since 2004-05 when scoring increased from 93.4 in 2003-04 to 97.2.

 There was an easy explanation for that jump. The league outlawed hand checking prior to the 1004-05 season. As great a shooter as Steph Curry is (6-2, 185), imagine how much harder it might be for him to get off his shot if, say, Marcus Smart (6-3, 220), the NBA’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, was to rerouting him.

The league did implement another rules change for this season but it doesn’t have the same impact as the elimination of hand checking. The “take foul” now comes with a one-shot free throw penalty instead of a side out possession. The take foul is when a team gives a foul to prevent a fast break opportunity. But that doesn’t fully explain what we’ve seen this season.

Donovan Mitchell had a 71-point game, the most since Kobe Bryant scored 81 in 2006. We will not identify who was defending him in the name of common decency.

Luke Doncic had a 60-point, 21-rebound,10-assist game. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a career-high 55 points. Damian Lillard just went for 60 and he did it on just 29 field goal attempts (21-of-29), 15 3’s (9-of-15) and 10 free throws (9-of-10). It was the most efficient 60-point game in NBA history.

As of this writing there have been 17, 50-point games in the NBA. There were 19 all of last season.

What does this mean for you? Bet the over.

There are a few games we’re targeting. The Warriors, 3rd in scoring, play at Oklahoma City, 7th in scoring, Monday night. The Warriors (3rd) are at the Nuggets (8th) and the Hawks (9th) are at the Jazz (2nd) on Feb. 3. The Hawks (9th) are at the Nuggets (8th) on Feb. 4th and the Kings (1st) are at the Pelicans (10th) on Feb. 5.

Lillard’s performance truly was one for the ages. He was just the third player in NBA history to score at least 60 points while attempting less than 30 field goal attempts. The other two – Karl Malone (26 field goal attempts) and James Harden (24) each scored 23 points from the foul line.

“That was incredible, man,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups told reporters. “You don’t get to see that very often, to be that efficient. For a guy to score 60 points and only 10 free throws and make nine of them, you’re thinking either this dude has an absurd amount of 3s. It was just incredible how efficient he was.”

Yes, it was. Even in a season of scoring, Lillard’s performance was breathtaking.

Wilt Chamberlain scored 60 or more points an NBA record 32 times. Lillard has done it four times, tied with Harden and Elgin Baylor. Michael Jordan did it five times; Bryant six.

When told about the company he now keeps, Lillard sounded like a man who played the over in his team’s 134-124 victory over the Jazz. That’s 258 points for those of you without a calculator handy.

“I ain’t catching Wilt,” Lillard said. “That’s out. Dang, that’s cool.”

This year, so is taking the over.

RUSSELL SPEAKS: We love Russell’s strategy on blocking shots but his thoughts on what makes a great player is equally thought provoking.

“You got to have the killer instinct,” said Russell. “If you do not have it, forget about basketball and go into social psychology or something. If you sometimes wonder if you’ve got it, you ain’t got it. No pussycats, please.”




Lenn Robbins
Sports Journalist
Hi, I'm Lenn Robbins, a long-time sportswriter who still holds the detention record at Bildersee Junior High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., where I was born and raised. I came out of the womb a Mets fan, was baptized a Knicks fans and through the power of TV, became a Cowboys fan, which explains why I'm in group therapy. The name of my fantasy football league team is Sexual Chocolate. Anyone who can explain the origin of said team name, please h
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