Elam landed on something more radical: eliminate the game clock from crunch time. Under Elam’s proposal, the clock would vanish after the first stoppage under the three-minute mark in the NBA and the four-minute mark in NCAA games. Officials would establish a target score by taking the score of the leading team and adding seven points — then restart the game without a clock. The team that reaches that target score first wins. In simpler terms: If the Clippers lead the Jazz 99-91 when Rudy Gobert hacks DeAndre Jordan with 2:55 left, the game then becomes a race to 106 points. Utah must outscore the Clippers 15-6 to win.
Some team officials cautioned that the plus-seven target score could extend some games — including blowouts — even longer than they go now. This seems like a minor problem; seven points can come fast in the normal flow, and close-but-not-really-close games take forever as is. “This idea would address the number one viewer issue I see in NBA games — the endless trips to the free throw line and timeouts at the end of games,” Daryl Morey, Houston’s GM, told ESPN.com.
Silver, speaking Thursday before the Denver Nuggets’ 140-112 rout of the Indiana Pacers at London’s O2 Arena, said the NBA started studying the issue last year — specifically, the number of timeouts that are allowed in the final two minutes — and will review it again at the end of this season. “It’s something that I know all of sports are looking at right now, and that is the format of the game and the length of time it takes to play the game,” Silver said. “Obviously people, particularly millennials, have increasingly short attention spans, so it’s something as a business we need to pay attention to.”