The NBA went into Christmas with a night like none other.
For the first time in NBA history, five players scored at least 43 points on the same day. It happened Friday, with Dallas’ Luka Doncic leading the way with 50 points against Houston.
The others: Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid scored 44 against the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a career-high 44 against New Orleans, New York’s RJ Barrett had 44 against Chicago and Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton scored a career-best 43 against Miami.
“Luka is Luka,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “He’s the best player in the world and he showed that tonight, carrying the load offensively again.”
As he usually does, Doncic deferred the credit.
“My teammates trusted me,” he said after his 17-for-30 night that also included 10 rebounds and eight assists.
The biggest shot of the night in Dallas’ 112-106 win over Houston might have been Doncic hitting a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left to give the Mavericks a five-point lead.
And that wasn’t even the most dramatic 3 that the night’s big scorers had.
That honor went to Haliburton, who made 10 3-pointers — the last of them with 4.3 seconds left to give the Pacers a 111-108 win over the Heat.
“Tyrese Haliburton is an artist,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said when asked about Haliburton’s different-than-most shooting stroke. “And you know, some people that have unconventional ways to be successful in this game, you have to just leave them alone and allow them to do what they do. His artistry is the way he gets the ball in the basket, the way he sees the game, the way he connects teammates and the special person that he is.”
Embiid’s big night came in Philadelphia’s seventh consecutive win. Barrett and the Knicks wound up falling to the Bulls, and Gilgeous-Alexander’s 44 came in an overtime loss to New Orleans — which he nearly extended into double overtime, with a 40-foot desperation shot at the end hitting the front rim at the buzzer of a 128-125 final.
“It was close. Not close enough,” said Gilgeous-Alexander, whose great start to this season has cemented himself as an early front-runner for NBA’s Most Improved Player honors — not to mention other postseason accolades, and likely a trip to the All-Star Game as well.
There now have been just over 4,400 instances of a player scoring 40 or more points in a regular-season game. Friday was only the fifth time that five of those happened on the same day — and the second time it happened in 2022.
On April 10, the final day of the 2021-22 regular season, Obi Toppin had 42 for New York, Jalen Green had 41 for Houston, Malik Monk scored 41 for the Los Angeles Lakers, Klay Thompson had 41 for Golden State and Victor Oladipo scored 40 for Miami.
The other three instances of five 40-point scorers:
— Feb. 21, 2003 — Tracy McGrady scored 52 for Orlando, Jamal Mashburn 50 for the New Orleans Hornets, Michael Jordan 43 for Washington, Allen Iverson 41 for Philadelphia and Kobe Bryant 40 for the Lakers.
— Feb. 2, 2001 — Allen Iverson scored 47 for Philadelphia, Bryant 44 for the Lakers, Chris Webber 41 for Sacramento, Paul Pierce 40 for Boston and Jerry Stackhouse 40 for Detroit.
— Dec. 25, 1961 — Wilt Chamberlain scored 59 for the Philadelphia Warriors, Tom Heinsohn 45 for Boston, Elgin Baylor 40 for the Lakers, Richie Guerin 40 for New York and Oscar Robertson 40 for Cincinnati.
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