NBA tells teams in memo it did not tell referees to reduce scoring

Charlotte Hornets v Detroit Pistons
Charlotte Hornets v Detroit Pistons

Scoring has been down in the NBA since Feb. 1, and it's a hot topic around the league. The conventional wisdom is that the league told referees to swallow their whistles a little, and they did—foul calls (on and off the ball) are down, free throws are down, and so are a variety of other things, such as defensive 3-second calls.

The league said, essentially, "Don't look at us" in a memo to teams obtained by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Scoring in the NBA was at the highest level since Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell were in the league this season, but there has been a noticeable drop in scoring since Feb. 1, which has been tied in part to a decrease in free throw attempts. Games are seeing 5.2 fewer free throw attempts after Feb. 1 compared to before, according to Seth Partnow, writing for Dunc’d On Prime.

The league can deny its involvement but nobody around the league is buying it. Referees appear to be calling the game differently, and that's only happening at the league's behest.