Points aplenty in NBA

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

For the first time since the 1981-82, three players could finish the NBA season averaging more than 30 points a game.

Kobe Bryant of the L.A. Lakers, who scorched the Raptors for 81 points on Jan. 22, leads the NBA, averaging 35.9 points per game. Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers is averaging 33.6 and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers is averaging 31.2.

The top three from the 1981-82 season were George Gervin of San Antonio (32.3), Moses Malone of Houston (31.1) and Adrian Dantley of Utah (30.3). Raptors assistant coach Alex English, playing for the Denver Nuggets, finished fourth in points per game that year with 25.4.

There are a number of theories as to why scoring is so prevalent this season.

"The rules, the way they call the games, the lack of practice time (to prepare on defence), a lot of teams are young, you have youngsters who are going to make a lot of mistakes," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "I watched Larry Brown's team give up 120 points (Monday) night."

Mitchell believes that there also are just a lot of pure scorers in the NBA right now.

"There are 15 guys that can get 40 on any given night," he said. "Every team has guys who can score."

Another reason may be the tightening up of the rules which prevent hand checking, the defensive player placing his hand on the dribbler. So how would the all-time great, Michael Jordan, who retired in 2003, do right now?

"He'd go crazy," Raptors forward Jalen Rose said, adding that there are a lot of players with half of Jordan's talent putting up a lot of points this season.

AROUND THE RIM

The Raptors practise at the RbK court at the ACC yesterday was a lively affair, if the whooping and hollering inside were any indication.

Reporters aren't allowed in, but you could hear the commotion from outside.

"We're just trying to have a good practice," Mitchell said. "No one was yelling, it was just practising." ... It is expected that Rapors forward Charlie Villanueva will be among those named today to the rookie/sophomore game that will be played during the NBA all-star weekend.


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