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BRANDON: He 'keeks' 3 touchdowns, and they shoot a ton of 3s

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews shows how many points he just scored on a shot from beyond the arc."I keek a touchdown."

Cyprus-born Garo Yepremian reportedly uttered those words after kicking a game-winning extra point in the 1960s for the Detroit Lions.

In Yepremian's day, football purists made fun of soccer-style kickers like him, most of them new arrivals from Europe who were changing the sport with their length and accuracy, even if they didn't understand the game.

Flash forward to Monday night's Baltimore Ravens-Lions game.

In the final minute, Baltimore's Justin Tucker kicked a 61-yard field goal — not 41, not 51 — to give the visiting Ravens the victory on a night in which neither their offense nor their defense got a whiff of the end zone.

"Keek" a touchdown?

He keeked three of them — scoring all of his team's points as Baltimore won 18-16.

Nothing funny about that, especially if you're the Lions.

• Speaking of 3-pointers, let's turn to basketball …

We're seeing more and more of them, both attempted and made.

The Blazers owe a lot of their success to their ability to make 3s. More than half of their rotation is a realistic threat from beyond the arc.

And, in the NBA Development League, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers are attempting 46 3-pointers per game — and are off to a 9-1 start.

Just mathematically, the long-ball strategy often makes sense these days. Even if you can hit 50 percent (a very good rate) of your 2-point attempts, that's just 10 points (five baskets) every 10 tries. If you make 33.3 percent of your 3s, you're at 9.9 points for 10 attempts.

The Vipers are shooting 46.1 percent on 2-pointers and 37.3 percent on 3s. They have attempted 52.6 shots per game from 2-point distance. So they have tried 6.6 more 2s than 3s per game — and they are scoring only 48 points per game on 2s to their 51 points per game on 3s.

Looking at it strategically, the 3-point shot is almost always less contested than a 2. A lot more 2s are blocked than 3s. A lot more offensive fouls come on 2s than 3s. The rebounds for a missed 3 often come off long, making it easier for the offense to grab than a rebound off a shorter miss. And, if the defense fouls you on a 3, you get the three free-throw attempts.

The 3 in basketball is becoming like going for the touchdown pass attempt to the end zone in football, while the 2-pointer is more like taking the field goal.

Being 3-point happy can help a team play faster on offense — akin to Chip Kelly's no-huddle approach in basketball — but it also enables teams to score and be rewarded even when they have failed to execute a play by the end of the shot clock.

But ... it may be time for basketball, especially the college game, to move the 3-point line farther from the basket, or implement other rules to lessen the 3-point shot's impact and the volume of 3s.

Not that that is the direction anyone in the game will take. The powers that be no doubt fear that fans have grown accustomed to the thrill, however relative or temporary, that comes from seeing 3 after 3 after 3 go down. It's a bit like watching someone shoot all the monsters in a video game.

There also is now a certain urban machismo to the 3-point game within the game of basketball — on the playground or in high schools or in the NBA. If you sink a 3 against me, I'm going to come down and make one on you right away. Touché.

The other argument in favor of 3-happy basketball is that with a plethora of 3-pointers it's easier for a team to mount a comeback. Of course, the team with the lead might not have gotten there without the 3-balls of its own.

When it comes to basketball, I'm often in the minority, because to me a huge number of 3-point attempts is rather boring. I'd rather see good plays, screens, cuts, more player movement and more ball movement.

And, as much as that makes me a traditionalist who fondly remembers basketball before the 3-point line, I'd also vote for looking into major changes. And I mean major.

Like, adding a 4-point line, possibly halfway from the 3-point arc to midcourt. That would make a long shot even more exciting, and allow a team to change the score dramatically with one or two makes.

I'd also like to take a serious look at 12-foot rims, or award only one point for a dunk on a 10-foot basket, or seriously consider other new rules regarding fouls, free throws, timeouts, court dimensions and more.

So by now I'm sure you think I'm really crazy.

And for now I'm waiting for the team that is brave enough to take basketball to another level and commit to attempting more 3-pointers than 2-pointers, game after game after game.