While coaching at Loyola Marymount, Paul Westhead said that his Lions would score 200 points before the first snowfall in Los Angeles. The Lions did indeed come close to that 200 barrier, whizzing past U.S. International 181-150 in January 1989 in L.A. But now Westhead is wintering in the NBA and Denver, where the games are eight minutes longer and a blizzard waits just around the corner. And so, it seems, does 200. "Someday it'll happen," Westhead said last week. "My guess is we'll be on the upside of that happening."
Well, maybe. But if the Phoenix Suns' 107-67 first-half lead over the Nuggets on Nov. 10 is any indication, there are teams with far more firepower than Denver. The Suns rattled off 57 shots and made 43 (75.4%)—30 of them dunks or layups—in that half and passed 100 points with 1:49 left. A shot went up every 12.4 seconds; the league-wide average for last season was a shot every 16.4 seconds.
In the second half, the Suns took 10 fewer shots and sputtered to a mere 173-143 victory. The Nuggets had switched to more conservative traps that allowed Phoenix fewer over-the-top passes. That suggests the Nuggets can always adjust to halt another team short of 200.
Former NBA coach Jack Ramsay, addressing the issue of a 200-point game, says, "With the freedom to shoot and the pace of the game, some team is going to have one." The Atlanta Hawks almost did in an exhibition game on Oct. 17, beating the Nuggets 194-166. The Hawks next play Denver Feb. 2. Could that be the day?
Reaching the 200-point plateau will probably require a combination of: 1) lots of opponent's turnovers to cash in on; 2) around 120 shots taken and at least 70% accuracy from the floor; 3) a tired opponent playing in Denver's wearying altitude; and 4) a close game in which the Nuggets can't back off from their dizzying tempo.