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Sam Merrill just made dramatic G League history

The first pick in the NBA G League draft two weeks ago by the Cleveland Charge, Merrill debuted for the Charge Friday and made a first-of-its-kind game-winning 3-pointer.

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Sacramento Kings guard Sam Merrill poses for a photo during the NBA basketball team’s media day in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sacramento Kings guard Sam Merrill poses for a photo during the NBA basketball team’s media day in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

AP

Sam Merrill developed quite a flair for the dramatic during his college basketball career with the Utah State Aggies, and that returned Friday night in a historic way in the professional ranks.

The first pick in the NBA G League draft two weeks ago by the Cleveland Charge, Merrill debuted for the Charge Friday and made a first-of-its-kind game-winning 3-pointer.

With the Charge trailing the Motor City Cruise 111-110 in overtime, Merrill went around a screen from Isaiah Mobley (the brother of young Cavaliers star Evan Mobley) and then got a pass from Sharife Cooper.

Merrill immediately rose up for the shot and sank it, giving the Charge a 113-111 win.

Why was it historic?

What is the Elam Ending?

This year, the G League has instituted what is called the “Elam Ending” for games that go into overtime. Instead of a set amount of time for overtime like the five minutes in the NBA, there is a target score to determine the winner.

The G League previously announced that the target score would be the first team to score seven points in overtime. On Friday, the Charge and Cruise were tied at 106 after regulation, meaning that the winning team would be the one that got to 113 first.

With it being the beginning of the G League season, it marked the first overtime contest of the campaign and thus the first time that the Elam Ending was used.

Elam Ending history

The Elam Ending has been used with great success for years in The Basketball Tournament, a national showcase played each summer, and in 2020, it was adopted by the NBA as the method to determine the winner of the annual All-Star Game.

In the NBA’s case, the winner is determined by the first team to score 24 more points (to honor the late Kobe Bryant, who wore that number) in the fourth quarter than however many the leading team has at the beginning of the frame.

For example, in 2021 the score was 133-124 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, so the target score was made 157, or 24 more than 133.

Merrill finished Friday with 12 points on 3 of 9 shooting and added four assists, two rebounds and a steal.

“Sam was struggling from 3 but we believed in him like we believe in all of our guys,” Mobley said, according to a story by Fear The Sword’s Jackson Flickinger.