Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic among top scorers in 4th quarter and OT

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Let’s rewind back to Sunday night in Denver when the Nuggets hosted the Pelicans. At the end of the third quarter, the Nuggets trailed by 10 points (94-84) and reigning league MVP Nikola Jokic had 16 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, two steals and three blocks. Just looking at that stat line alone, only four other players this season have reached those marks or better in an entire game. But Jokic was far from done.

The Nuggets would outscore the Pelicans 40-30 in the fourth quarter with Jokic scoring 23 of those points on 7-for-8 shooting from the field and 9-for-9 from the free throw line – the last two free throws coming with 3.2 seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime. At this point, Jokic was up to 39 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and four blocks. No other player has hit those marks in a game going all the way back to 1976-77 when steals and blocks became official stats. But Jokic was still not done.

In overtime, he added seven more points on 3-for-3 shooting from the field – including a 3-pointer to push Denver’s lead to four points with 90 seconds left – as he single-handedly outscored the Pelicans in the extra session as Denver secured the 138-130 win. The final numbers on Jokic for the night: 46 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, three steals, four blocks, 16-22 FG (72.7%), 3-5 3P (60%), 11-12 FT (91.7%) in 43 minutes.

Jokic’s brilliant performance begged the question of which players have been most dominant in the fourth quarter and overtime this season. And despite his 23-point outburst in the fourth quarter against New Orleans, Jokic does not rank in the top 10 among fourth-quarter scorers so far this season. Through games played on Sunday, March 6, Jokic ranks 12th in the league in overall scoring (25.8 ppg) and 18th in fourth-quarter scoring (5.6 ppg) with a minimum of 30 games played.

However, when it comes to overtime scoring, Jokic is right near the top of the list as he has averaged 9.7 points on 84.6% (11-13) shooting in three overtime games this season – Denver has won all three games. Only OKC’s Luguentz Dort has averaged more overtime points than Jokic (10.0 ppg over two games) as he has been nearly as efficient (83.3 FG%) as the Joker.

Jokic is not only second in overtime scoring average, he has scored more total points in overtime (29) than any other player despite having played just 15 overtime minutes across three games. Compare that to 40 overtime minutes for Anthony Davis and 35 minutes for Dennis Schroder, who are tied for second at 28 total overtime points scored this season.

When comparing the two lists, LeBron James and Joel Embiid are the only two players that rank in the top 10 in both fourth quarter and overtime scoring this season, with both players increasing their scoring efficiency in the extra sessions.

LeBron is averaging 7.9 points on 48% shooting in the fourth quarter and 6.3 points on 53.3% shooting in overtime, helping the Lakers to a league-high six overtime wins compared to just one loss (0.857 win percentage).

Embiid averages more points in overtime (9.5) than he does in the fourth quarter (6.1) this season. He is shooting 15 percentage points higher in overtime (63.6%) than he is in the fourth (48.7%) and has led Philly to a 2-1 mark in overtime games this season.

The difference in sample size between fourth quarters and overtime sessions really comes into play when comparing these two lists. So far this season, there have been 44 games that have gone to overtime and a total of 53 overtime sessions have been played. With fewer games played, it allows a single performance to stand out more and therefore more variance can be seen among the league leaders.

On the flip side, if you look at the top 10 scorers in the fourth quarter, you will see nearly all of the same players in the top 10 in scoring for the entire season, just in varying order. The only exception to this rule is Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, who ranks 10th in overall scoring and 14th in fourth-quarter scoring.

PLAYER 4TH PPG (RK) PPG (RK) %PPG 4TH
Giannis Antetokounmpo 8.7 (1) 29.2 (4) 29.8%
DeMar DeRozan 8.3 (2) 28.1 (5) 29.5%
LeBron James 7.9 (3) 29.4 (3) 26.9%
Jayson Tatum 7.2 (4) 26.5 (9) 27.2%
Kevin Durant 6.6 (5) 29.5 (1) 22.4%
Stephen Curry 6.4 (6) 25.8 (11) 24.8%
Ja Morant 6.3 (7) 27.6 (8) 22.8%
Trae Young 6.1 (8) 28.0 (6) 21.8%
Joel Embiid 6.1 (9) 29.5 (2) 20.7%
Luka Doncic 6.0 (10) 27.8 (7) 21.6%

Giannis Antetokounmpo not only averages the most fourth-quarter points, his scoring in the fourth represents 29.8% of his total points scored per game – the highest percentage among this group, followed closely by DeMar DeRozan (29.5%). Meanwhile, the biggest drop off belongs to Embiid, who ranks second in scoring overall, but ninth in the fourth, with just 20.7% of his points coming in the final 12 minutes of regulation. However, as noted above, when the Sixers do face overtime, Embiid takes over.

This past week saw three of the top 10 fourth-quarter scoring performances of the season: Jokic’s 23 points against the Pelicans on March 6; Cam Johnson’s 21 points (including the game-winning buzzer-beater) against the Knicks on March 4; and Jayson Tatum’s 21 points against the Grizzlies on March 3. However, Charlotte’s Kelly Oubre Jr. continues to hold the top fourth-quarter scoring game of the season with 24 points on 8-for-9 shooting from 3-point range in just eight minutes against Detroit on Jan. 5.

While Dort owns the top overtime scoring performance of the season with 14 points against Dallas on Feb. 2, Jokic has the next two with 11 points apiece against the Clippers on Jan. 19 and against the Pelicans on Dec. 8. Two of Denver’s three overtime games have come against the Pelicans as the Nuggets won the season series 3-1.

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