Elam Ending Explained: NBA All-Star Game Goal Scoring and Rules

The NBA All-Star Game introduced its own version of the “Elam Ending” starting in 2020 and has stayed true to the format ever since. At the 2023 NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, Utah, with Team LeBron versus Team Giannis, the winner will again be determined by a goal score rather than a running clock in the fourth quarter.

Here’s how the NBA version of the Elam ending works for the 2023 All-Star Game:

  • Team LeBron and Team Giannis play normal 12-minute periods for the first three quarters of the game. With each new quarter, the score starts again at 0:0, but at the end the cumulative score still counts. More on that in a minute.
  • Team LeBron and Team Giannis each play for charity. The winner of each quarter donates a large cash prize to the charity they play for. A total of $750,000 will be donated that evening.
  • Here’s how the NBA explained each charity and their mission: “Team LeBron will play for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, that creates and supports one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Team Giannis will play for Raise the Future, which aims to reduce youth in foster care and increase opportunities for a lifelong connection by providing trauma healing services to young people and families.”

  • Total points come into play in the fourth quarter. At the start of the period, the team that wins the point total adds 24 points to their total score and this becomes the target score that decides the game. For example: Let’s say Team LeBron leads 150-140 at the end of three quarters. The target score is set at 174 (150 + 24) and the first team to reach 174 points wins the game. The NBA uses 24 to honor Kobe Bryant.

The system of the NBA All-Star Game differs slightly from the original Elam Ending. In the original Elam Ending, the game clock is turned off on the first whistle with up to four minutes remaining, and eight points are added to the winning team’s score to create the target score.

Why does the NBA All-Star Game use a target score to determine the winner?

The NBA wanted to eliminate teams who intentionally fouled at the end of the All-Star Game to get the ball back. With a goal score to decide the game, the losing team doesn’t have to foul to have a shot when they’re about to go: they just have to stop on defense and score on offense.

Another benefit of aim scoring is that every game ends with a game-winning shot. The only downside is that it can be a free throw, which is boring. Hopefully the referees will swallow the whistles late.

2023 NBA All-Star Game: Start Time, TV, How to Watch

Date: Sunday 19 February

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

TV and streaming: TNT

DraftKings sports betting odds: Team LeBron-2.5

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