By Tim Reynolds
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MIAMI _ The flop epidemic may be over.
Flopping _ the art of exaggerated reactions designed to lure undeserved foul calls against an opponent _ is not extinct, but the league’s crackdown on it seems to have worked. After an average of 30 flops being flagged by the league office with either a warning or a fine in the last three regular seasons, there’s been only eight so far this season.
And in February, there were none.
Players are still trying to influence referees, and that won’t change. And it’s probably fair to say that the NBA might not be as diligent in handing out the flopping warnings as they have been in past seasons. But the most egregious, Oscar-worthy flops seem to be minimized, which is what the league wanted when it made this a point of emphasis before the 2012-13 season.
SCORING UP: Maybe that week of rest is paying off.
There’s still more than a full month left in the season, but here’s one sign that teams getting an elongated break after the All-Star Game was a good thing: Scoring is up, in a big way.
There’s been more points scored per game since this year’s All-Star break than in any of the past 25 seasons, at around 210 combined points per game. And compared to the pre-All-Star schedule this season, that represents a rise of about seven more points per game.
STEPH’S 3’S: One quick note on Golden State’s Stephen Curry, who now has 294 3-pointers this season and is on pace to eclipse the 300 mark this week _ The NBA added the 3-point shot for the 1979-80 season, and it wasn’t until 1988-89 that a full team made 300 3’s in a season.
Curry was just 1 for 10 from long range in the Warriors’ stunning loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. Out of 132 career games, including playoffs, where he’s taken at least 10 3’s, Curry has shot that badly only four times.
WHAT TO WATCH
Here’s some of the games worth keeping an eye on this week:
_ L.A. Clippers at Dallas, Monday: Notable in that DeAndre Jordan goes back to Dallas for the second time after last summer’s free-agency hijinks. Guessing that Mavs fans still remember how that turned out.
_ San Antonio at Minnesota, Tuesday: The Timberwolves essentially became the Spurs’ farm team at buyout time, with Andre Miller and Kevin Martin both getting exit packages from Minnesota and deciding to chase a championship with San Antonio.
_ Cleveland at L.A. Lakers, Thursday: LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, one last time. Nothing more need be said.
_ Portland at Golden State, Friday: First meeting between these teams since Damian Lillard’s 51-point explosion for the Blazers carried them to a stunning 32-point romp over the reigning champions on Feb. 19.
_ Miami at Chicago, Friday: Heat guard Dwyane Wade is nearing the 20,000-point mark for his career, and goes back to his hometown for a game that will surely have bearing on the Eastern Conference playoff race.
STAT OF THE WEEK
DeMar DeRozan, Toronto: Not just for shooting 24 of 25 from the foul line in Friday’s win over Portland, but for the fact that his one miss _ with 0.9 seconds remaining and the Raptors up two _ was intentional, done so the Blazers (who were out of time-outs) would have to get a rebound and make a miracle heave to win. He apparently didn’t realize 25 for 25 would be an NBA record for one game, but it’s worth noting that he was willing to forgo a perfect night to ensure a victory.