NBA's New Warning Horns Work to Speed Up Games

Paul Steinbach Headshot

How long did it take for the NBA's new warning horns to shorten the duration of games? If their debut Tuesday night is any indication, not long.

The league instructed scoreboard operators to sound a warning before a time out or quarter break was about to end, and then a second horn blast by the time players are expected back on the court. In addition, referees were to promptly disperse player huddles. According to Associated Press reports, courtside memos pointed to "prolonged delays after breaks" as the main reason games have been dragging.

The new measures appear to have made an immediate impact. NBA games have typically lasted two and a half hours, but the nine games on last night's schedule averaged 2 hours, 13 minutes. Miami took only 2:02 to top visiting Sacramento by 20 points. Boston blew out host Golden State, 115-93, in 2:10. In Charlotte, the Bobcats dispatched Toronto, 114-101, in 2:12. Indiana won at Washington, 113-96, in a game that ended in 2:21 despite featuring 55 fouls.

If you're thinking closer games with more timeouts would have drawn out those contests, consider that Houston's 108-100 win at Detroit last night ended in 2:04 - the Pistons' quickest of 30 home games this season.

None of last night's games was televised nationally. NBA spokesperson Mark Broussard tells AB that a different procedure will be used for nationally televised games, which won't be expected to run as expeditiously as locally televisied games.

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