3-point experiment proves moot

By wire services
Published March 20, 2005

Based on the results of a minor-league experiment, NBA 3-point shooters likely will continue to serve up their specialties at will. Concerned that the proliferation of 3-point attempts was dragging down shooting percentages, the NBA-owned National Basketball Development League this season instituted a rule that shots from beyond the arc would only count for three points in the final three minutes of regulation and all of overtime.

The thought was players would seek out higher-percentage opportunities, boosting offense.

"One of the main impetuses in implementing (it) was to see if it would increase our shooting percentage for two-point field goals," NBA vice president Stu Jackson said, "and so far there hasn't been any significant increase."

From the start, the rule appeared flawed.

"I didn't really like it, because I thought it took out some of the excitement out of the game," said Bobcats guard Matt Carroll, who began the season with the NBDL's Roanoke Dazzle. "If a team plays zone against you, it's kind of hard to beat a zone if you can't shoot 3-pointers."

Then there was the sheer ludicrousness of playing the game one way for 45 minutes and another way for the final three.

"When the three-minute mark came," Carroll said, "you were like, "Oh, yeah, I've got to shoot some 3s.' "

From the moment the rule was implemented, Jackson said there were no guarantees it would be taken further than the NBDL.

As it turns out, the need for change became moot, with the Suns, Sonics, Wizards and Heat cranking up scoring as part of an offensive revival.

"Because of what has happened in the NBA, I don't think they're in a position to need to change anything," said Florida Flame coach Dennis Johnson, a former Celtics standout.

Jackson agreed. "We like where our game is right now."

GOOD TO BE BACK: There were a lot of unreturned phone calls and a lot of bus trips, but point guard Cory Alexander finally has returned to the NBA.

After playing for the Magic in 2000-01, Alexander, 31, did not get back to the NBA until being signed last month by the Bobcats out of the NBDL.

Alexander believes he was blackballed.

"I honestly think the stereotype was that I was uncoachable," said Alexander, who said he could not get invited to training camps. "It was part of the situation that went down (at Denver). It was a stigma that I had to fight until somebody gave me an opportunity. At this point, I have an opportunity for somebody (with the Bobcats) to stick up for me and say that's not the case."

Alexander was signed by the Nuggets midway through the 1997-98 season and earned a six-year, $14-million deal. But Alexander played only two more seasons for the Nuggets, his contract being bought out after he clashed with coach Dan Issel.

Alexander played 26 games with Orlando in 2000-01. He sat out more than three NBA seasons while playing in the NBDL and overseas.

"It feels great to be back," said Alexander, averaging 3.2 points in six games. "I just wish I could get something going and play a little better and contribute a little more."