NBA Stats

Mar 28 2014 8:25PM

He's on Fire!

By Brian Martin

For fans of the great old school video game NBA Jam, those three words from the announcer and the scorching net meant any shot you threw up was going down. (And if you're not familiar with NBA Jam, check out this great video from the Suns).

On Wednesday night in Sacramento, New York's J.R. Smith was in video-game mode as he hit nine 3-point shots on his way to 29 points and a Knicks win over the Kings to help keep New York's playoff hopes alive.

It was the fourth time in his career that he has hit at least nine 3-pointers in a game, tying him with Kobe Bryant as the only players in NBA history to ever hit that many threes in that many games.

We've discussed the proliferation of the 3-point shot here before and how it has grown from a seldom-used tactic when it was first introduced to the NBA in 1979 to a centerpiece of offensive strategy in recent years.

Smith's performance on Monday is another example of that growth. When hearing this stat about Smith and Bryant, it made me think to look at the all-time leaders in 3-pointers made and see where they stacked up against them.

A quick look at the top five -- Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Paul Pierce -- produced only one game of nine or more 3-pointers among that group: Allen hit 10 threes in a game back in 2002 as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks.

All-Time Leaders 3FGM

RankPlayerCareer 3FGMCareer 3FG%Games w/ 9+ 3FGMMost 3FGM in a game
1Ray Allen2,95740.0%110
2Reggie Miller2,56039.5%08 (2x)
3Jason Kidd1,98834.9%08 (2x)
4Jason Terry1,95037.9%07 (2x)
5Paul Pierce1,91837.0%08

13Kobe Bryant1,64033.5%412*
33J.R. Smith1,26736.9%411
* Tied for NBA record with Donyell Marshall

While Bryant and Smith are still miles away from catching the likes of Allen or Miller on the all-time list for 3-pointers made, and shoot at a far lower percentage from beyond the arc, they have accomplished a feat that those legendary shooters haven't come close to matching.

NBA games with 9 or more 3FGM

# of 3FGMPlayerTeamsDate
12Kobe BryantL.A. Lakers vs. Seattle7-Jan-03
12Donyell MarshallToronto vs. Philadelphia13-Mar-05
11J.R. SmithDenver vs. Sacramento13-Apr-09
11Dennis ScottOrlando vs. Atlanta18-Apr-96
11Stephen CurryNew York vs. Golden State27-Feb-13
11Deron WilliamsBrooklyn vs. Washington8-Mar-13
10Brian ShawMilwaukee vs. Miami8-Apr-93
10Ty LawsonDenver vs. Minnesota9-Apr-11
10Ray AllenMilwaukee vs. Charlotte14-Apr-02
10George McCloudDallas vs. Phoenix16-Dec-95
10Joe JohnsonBrooklyn vs. Philadelphia16-Dec-13
10J.R. SmithDenver vs. Atlanta23-Dec-09
10Trevor ArizaHouston vs. Washington12-Feb-14
10CJ MilesCleveland vs. Philadelphia7-Jan-14
10Mario ChalmersSacramento vs. Miami12-Jan-13
10Chandler ParsonsHouston vs. Memphis24-Jan-14
10Terrence RossToronto vs. L.A. Clippers25-Jan-14
10Peja StojakovicL.A. Lakers vs. New Orleans6-Nov-07
10Joe DumarsDetroit vs. Minnesota8-Nov-94
9Ricky DavisWashington vs. Miami4-Apr-08
9Channing FryePhoenix vs. Minnesota11-Apr-11
9Michael AdamsL.A. Clippers vs. Denver12-Apr-91
9Stephen CurryL.A. Lakers vs. Golden State12-Apr-13
9Dennis ScottOrlando vs. Milwaukee13-Apr-93
9Ben GordonChicago vs. Washington14-Apr-06
9Dale EllisSeattle vs. L.A. Clippers20-Apr-90
9Dee BrownMilwaukee vs. Toronto28-Apr-99
9Mahmoud Abdul-RaufUtah vs. Denver7-Dec-95
9Vince CarterNew Jersey vs. Memphis11-Dec-06
9Leon WoodPhiladelphia vs. Utah20-Dec-85
9Quentin RichardsonNew Orleans vs. Phoenix29-Dec-04
9Chuck PersonVancouver vs. San Antonio30-Dec-97
9Latrell SprewellNew York vs. L.A. Clippers4-Feb-03
9Ben GordonPhoenix vs. Chicago4-Feb-06
9Nicolas BatumPortland vs. Denver4-Feb-12
9Chauncey BillupsL.A. Lakers vs. Denver5-Feb-10
9Jason RichardsonMilwaukee vs. Orlando11-Feb-12
9Michael ReddMilwaukee vs. Houston20-Feb-02
9Mike MillerGolden State vs. Memphis21-Feb-07
9Robert HorryCleveland vs. Houston22-Feb-96
9Rex ChapmanMiami vs. Chicago23-Feb-96
9Mike MillerMemphis vs. Golden State3-Jan-07
9Dan MajerleMinnesota vs. Miami11-Jan-00
9Antoine WalkerSacramento vs. Boston17-Jan-01
9Nick AndersonUtah vs. Orlando19-Jan-96
9Latrell SprewellMilwaukee vs. New York26-Jan-02
9Dana BarrosPhiladelphia vs. Phoenix27-Jan-95
9Carmelo AnthonyNew York vs. Atlanta27-Jan-13
9John StarksNew York vs. Milwaukee29-Jan-98
9J.R. SmithDenver vs. Detroit12-Mar-11
9Steven SmithAtlanta vs. Seattle14-Mar-97
9Toney DouglasNew York vs. Memphis17-Mar-11
9Ben GordonDenver vs. Detroit21-Mar-12
9Kobe BryantUtah vs. L.A. Lakers22-Mar-05
9Mike BibbySacramento vs. Phoenix25-Mar-07
9J.R. SmithSacramento vs. New York26-Mar-14
9Rodrigue BeauboisGolden State vs. Dallas27-Mar-10
9Kobe BryantL.A. Lakers vs. Washington28-Mar-03
9Kobe BryantL.A. Lakers vs. Memphis28-Mar-08
9Antoine WalkerMinnesota vs. Boston9-Nov-02
9Jeremy LinPhiladelphia vs. Houston13-Nov-13
9Dennis ScottDallas vs. Golden State20-Nov-97
9Paul GeorgeIndiana vs. New Orleans21-Nov-12
9Caron ButlerL.A. Clippers vs. New Orleans26-Nov-12
9Dorell WrightMinnesota vs. Golden State27-Nov-10
9Stephen CurryL.A. Clippers vs. Golden State31-Oct-13

There have been 66 games in NBA history where a player hit at least nine 3-pointers; Kobe and J.R. account for eight of them (12.1%) and are two of only eight players that have ever had more than one game with nine 3-pointers made.

4 Games: Kobe Bryant, J.R. Smith
3 Games: Ben Gordon, Dennis Scott, Stephen Curry
2 Games: Antoine Walker, Latrell Sprewell, Mike Miller

The player to keep an eye on is Stephen Curry, who has three such games in only 326 games played, less than half of Smith's 682 games and just over a quarter of Kobe's 1,245 games.

While we looked at the all-time leaders in 3-pointers made earlier, when we change the parameter from total 3-pointers made to 3-pointers made per game, we see Curry jumps to the top of the list at 2.6 per game. Also, Curry's 43.8 career 3FG% ranks third all-time behind only Steve Kerr (45.4%) and Hubert Davis (44.1%).

All-Time Leaders 3FGM per game

RankPlayerGames Played3FGM/game3FG%
1Stephen Curry3262.643.8%
2Damian Lillard1552.437.7%
3Klay Thompson2182.340.8%
4Ray Allen12922.340.0%
5Peja Stojakovic8042.240.1%

The top three players on this list are all young players (Curry is in his fifth year, Thompson is in his third and Lillard is a sophomore), who entered the NBA in this era of 3-point popularity. Allen, who hit arguably the biggest 3-point shot in the history of the game in last year's Finals, continues to be a valuable piece to the defending champs for his ability to still knock down threes in his 18th NBA season.

If we narrow the search even more and look at games with 10 or more 3-pointers made, we see that there have been only 19 of these games in NBA history. And FIVE of them (more than 25%) have come in this season alone.

NBA games with 10 or more 3FGM, this season

# of 3FGMPlayerTeamsDate
10Joe JohnsonBrooklyn vs. Philadelphia16-Dec-13
10Trevor ArizaHouston vs. Washington12-Feb-14
10CJ MilesCleveland vs. Philadelphia7-Jan-14
10Chandler ParsonsHouston vs. Memphis24-Jan-14
10Terrence RossToronto vs. L.A. Clippers25-Jan-14

So who will be the next player to catch fire from beyond the arc and add themselves to this list? Both Curry and Smith are in action on Friday as the Warriors host the Grizzlies and the Knicks are in Phoenix to face the Suns.

One interesting side note to close with: Curry's Warriors have gone 0-3 when he hits nine or more 3-pointers, while Smith's Nuggets and Knicks teams have gone a perfect 4-0 when he sets the nets ablaze.