Thirty years ago today, December 13, 1983, the NBA record book was flipped upside down as the Detroit Pistons and the Denver Nuggets put on the most ridiculous display of offense ever seen in league history. The two teams went beyond the distance in a triple overtime thriller that ended with the Pistons defeating the Nuggets 186-184. The obvious story here is all about the numbers. Both teams broke the old mark of 173 for a team in a game, and the combined 370 topped the previous mark of 337 (San Antonio vs Milwaukee, 1982). Other digits that went into the books: 142 field goals made by both teams and 74 made by Detroit. John Long hit the game winner for Detroit with 1:11 left in the third OT.
First, the records: The game, which lasted 3 hours and 11 minutes, established three straight single-team marks. The Pistons' point total surpassed the 173 the Boston Celtics scored against the Minneapolis Lakers on Feb. 27, 1959. Detroit made 74 field goals, surpassing the previous mark of 72 set by Boston in the 1959 game. The Nuggets established a record for points by a losing team, the previous standard having been 166 by the Milwaukee Bucks in a game against the San Antonio Spurs on March 6, 1982.
There were also three two-team records. The combined total of 370 points eclipsed the mark of 337 set in the Bucks-Spurs game. The teams hit 136 field goals, beating the mark also set in that game. The total of 93 assists broke the previous record of 89 set in a game between Detroit and the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 28, 1973.
It seems it would only be in a dream where teams today would put up such a point total. But who knows, as the rules continue to be altered and as long as there are NBA referees, anything is possible, right?
Isiah Thomas – 47 points, 17 assists