BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The Nets played a seemingly oxymoronic historic preseason game Sunday afternoon, losing 95-90 to the Boston Celtics in the first 44-minute game ever in the NBA. The game featured one fewer minute per quarter, and one fewer TV timeout in the second and fourth quarters.
But neither the players nor the coach really seemed to notice much difference.
“I look up there and we’re already to the first timeout, so that was kind of surprising,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “That was the only time it really seemed like it was quick. But other than that, I didn’t really notice.”
Deron Williams, who played 25 of the first 33 minutes but skipped the fourth quarter, said he didn’t see much difference, partially due to the preseason rotations, but mostly because it’s only a minor factor.
“I kind of play my same rotation, I think, except for not playing the fourth quarter,” Williams said. “It’s really hard to tell. A minute a quarter, four minutes total in the game, when you’re out there real-time you’re not really thinking about it. You can’t really tell anything.”
Nets guard Joe Johnson even admitted that he’d forgotten entirely about the change.
“Honestly, I forgot all about it. At the end of the game, there was probably about a few minutes left in the fourth, and I forgot we was even playing eleven — what was it, eleven-minute quarters?” Johnson inquired.
Backup guard and 10-year NBA veteran Jarrett Jack agreed that there wasn’t much in-game change. “Not in the flow of it,” Jack said. “Being that we’re used to playing a 48-minute game, you kind of feel it with coming out the last two minutes of the game, you’re like, ‘man, we really would’ve had six minutes.’ You might get to a time-out or two faster than usual, or you might look up and be like, ‘we’re already at the six-minute mark.’ But it wasn’t too noticeable.”
Before the game, Hollins said it would take time to implement as a rule, if it ever happened, and that it wouldn’t make much of a difference for stars. “If Joe Johnson’s playing 35 minutes in a 48-minute game, he’s gonna play 35 minutes in a 44-minute game,” Hollins said. “It just means the guys coming off the bench will have four less minutes to operate with.”
Johnson agreed. “I mean, I don’t think it makes that much of a difference, honestly,” Johnson added. “It really doesn’t. If you still loggin’ 36 minutes, it’s not really a difference.”
The game’s official running time was 1:58, nearly 20 minutes shorter than the league’s average regulation time of 2:17 last year. Johnson expressed skepticism that they’d ever implement it as a rule.
“I can’t sit there and take a minute off every quarter,” Johnson lamented. “I know they’ve been talking about it, but I don’t really see it happening.”