Joe Dumars went to a game a couple of weeks ago that came down to the very last shot, and he thought it was one of the best games of the season to this point. Final score: Denver 102, Boston 100.

It was a reminder that defense still can get played in the NBA.

Amid a flurry of big individual performances — Luka Doncic scoring 73, Joel Embiid scoring 70, Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns each scoring 62 — in the last two weeks alone, Dumars said Wednesday that NBA officials aren’t alarmed by such numbers because the league’s scoring average is up only slightly compared to last season.

“It’s where the game is today,” said Dumars, the NBA’s executive vice president and head of basketball operations. “It’s the pace of the game. It’s the amount of 3s guys are shooting now. You’re going to have some offensive eruptions like that.”

There hadn’t been an instance since April 1978 of two players scoring at least 60 points in the same day. That is, until it happened twice last week: Embiid and Towns had their huge games on Jan. 22, Doncic and Booker put on their scoring shows on Jan. 26.

Having those events happen twice in the span of a few days is a statistical oddity, for certain. But the numbers show it’s not really much more than that.


Scoring leaguewide this season is up just 0.78% over last season entering Wednesday, from 114.7 points per game to 115.6 points per game. The jump was far bigger last season, when scoring rose 3.7% over the rate of 110.6 points per game that the league saw in 2021-22.

There have been more high-scoring games, but the averages suggest things also tend to balance out. Entering Wednesday, there had been 78 instances of teams scoring at least 135 points in a game this season — already the second most for a full season in league history and on pace to smash the record of 112, set last season. The previous mark was 74 games of 135 or more, done in 2019-20.

“We’re going to see offensive eruptions with this kind of pace and the amount of 3s people shoot,” Dumars said. “But there’s no push here at the league office from me or anyone else that we want to see a certain score. I left that Boston-Denver game saying, ‘wow, great game.’ That’s what fans want. Fans want to leave a game or watch a game and at the end say, ‘that was incredible.’ The score is secondary to that. Fans just want to see great games.”

TWO-DAY DRAFT: The NBA draft is moving to a two-day format for the first time.

The league on Wednesday announced the change, which had been in the works for several months. Round 1 of the draft this year will be on Wednesday, June 26 at Barclays Center in New York. Round 2 will follow on June 27 at ESPN’s Seaport District Studios in New York.

Last year’s draft — with Victor Wembanyama going No. 1 overall to the San Antonio Spurs — lasted nearly five hours and ended around 12:45 a.m. Eastern, which is one of the primary reasons for stretching it over two days.


The time between picks in the first round will remain five minutes. It will increase from two minutes to four minutes in the second round.

Teams have a slew of business to tend to in the hours following the draft, such as reaching agreements with undrafted free agents and finding players to fill rosters for the looming summer leagues. The league also expects that having draft broadcasts ending at a more reasonable hour will be more viewer-friendly.

The June 26 start date for the draft is three days after Game 7 of this season’s NBA Finals, if the series goes the full distance. The finals are scheduled to begin on June 6.

The order for this season’s draft will be finalized at the draft lottery on May 12. That’s followed by the draft combine in Chicago, scheduled this year for May 13-19 under new rules.

All prospects who are invited by the NBA must attend the combine — where they’ll have to participate in certain skills evaluation, height and wingspan measurements, medical examinations, team interviews, media sessions and more — in order to be eligible for the draft. Prospects will not be required to take part in scrimmage games that are part of the combine’s offerings. This is a significant change from past years, when many top draft picks chose to skip the combine entirely.

EMBIID OUT: Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid will miss Thursday’s game at Utah after the reigning MVP hurt his left knee Tuesday in a loss to the Golden State Warriors.


Embiid will receive further evaluation on his knee over the next 24 hours, according to the Sixers.

Embiid scored 14 points in that game before limping to the locker room with 4:04 remaining after Golden State’s Jonathan Kuminga fell on the 7-footer’s left leg.

This game marked Embiid’s return to action after an issue with his left knee prevented him from playing Saturday at Denver — scrapping a highly anticipated matchup with two-time MVP Nikola Jokic — or Monday at Portland.

“He obviously got landed on,” 76ers coach Nick Nurse said after Wednesday’s game. “They’re going to do an MRI. … It’s kind of unrelated to what’s been bothering him. We just wait on that.”

Embiid already has missed 12 games this season, jeopardizing his chances of being eligible for a second straight MVP award. The new collective bargaining agreement requires players, in most instances, to play in 65 regular-season games to be eligible for awards such as MVP or the All-NBA teams.

When healthy, Embiid has continued to perform at an MVP level. He is the NBA’s leading scorer at 35.3 points per game and is averaging 11.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists. He scored a franchise-record 70 points to go along with 18 rebounds on Jan. 22 in a 133-124 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

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