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On This Day (Dec. 13)
Notable events from NBA history that occurred on December 13.
On this day in 1983, the Detroit Pistons beat the Denver Nuggets 186-184 in triple overtime, the highest-scoring game in NBA history. Numerous records were set, including:
Most points, one team, game (186, Pistons)
Most points, both teams, game (370)
Most field goals made, one team, game (74, Pistons)
Most field goals made, both teams, game (142)
Most assists, both teams, game (93)
Four players scored at least 40 points:
51 — Kiki VanDeWeghe, Nuggets (career high)
47 — Alex English, Nuggets
47 — Isiah Thomas, Pistons (career high)
41 — John Long, Pistons
It’s the only game in NBA history to feature four 40-point scorers. VanDeWeghe and English are one of only two duos in NBA history to each score at least 45 points in the same game. The other is the San Antonio Spurs’ George Gervin (50) and Mike Mitchell (45) on March 6, 1982.
Thomas dished out 17 assists to go along with his 47 points. He’s one of only four players in NBA history to record at least 45 points and 15 assists in a game:
Gail Goodrich (March 9, 1969)
Isiah Thomas (Dec. 13, 1983)
James Harden (Dec. 31, 2016)
Trae Young (March 1, 2019)
Each team attempted only two 3-pointers, making one:
1-2 — Isiah Thomas, Pistons
1-1 — Richard Anderson, Nuggets
0-1 — Dan Issel, Nuggets
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First 50-Point Triple-Double
On this day in 1961, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Elgin Baylor had 52 points, 25 rebounds, and 10 assists in 137-136 win over the St. Louis Hawks, becoming the first player in NBA history to record a 50-point triple-double.
Baylor is now one of six players in NBA history to accomplish the feat, and one of only four to do so multiple times:
5 — James Harden
3 — Russell Westbrook
2 — Elgin Baylor
2 — Wilt Chamberlain
1 — Richie Guerin
1 — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain (twice) are the only players in NBA history to record at least 50 points, 25 rebounds, and 10 assists in a game.
Burton Beats the Heat
On this day in 1994, the Philadelphia 76ers’ Willie Burton recorded one of the most surprising 50-point games in NBA history in a 105-90 victory over the Miami Heat:
Burton is one of only three players in NBA history to record a 50-point game without attempting at least 20 shots from the field:
17 — Adrian Dantley (Oct. 31, 1980)
19 — Willie Burton (Dec. 13, 1994)
19 — Kyrie Irving (March 8, 2022)
Burton set a franchise record for most free throws made in a game, a record he still shares today with Allen Iverson (Feb. 12, 2005).
Burton scored 45.3% of his points via free throws, the fourth-highest such figure in a 50-point game in NBA history:
52.0% — Adrian Dantley (Oct. 31, 1980)
48.0% — James Harden (Dec. 3, 2019)
46.0% — Kevin Martin (April 1, 2009)
45.3% — Willie Burton (Dec. 13, 1994)
45.1% — Vince Carter (Dec. 23, 2005)
Burton did not score more than 33 points in any other game during his 316-game career.
Harden, Part I
On this day in 2018, James Harden tallied 50 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists as the Rockets defeated the Lakers 126-111. Harden played just 35 minutes, the fewest ever by a player with a 50-point triple-double:
35 — James Harden (Dec. 13, 2018)
37 — Russell Westbrook (April 9, 2017)
38 — Harden (March 30, 2019)
39 — Harden (Jan. 27, 2017)
This was the fourth of Harden’s five career 50-point triple-doubles, the most such games in NBA history.
Harden Part II
On this day in 2019, the Houston Rockets’ James Harden scored 54 points in a 130-107 win over the Orlando Magic. Harden shot 19-31 from the field — including 10-15 from 3-point range — and made all six of his free throws.
It was the second straight game in which Harden scored at least 50 points with 10 3-pointers made. He’s the only player in NBA history to accomplish this feat. Harden and Stephen Curry (three times) are the only players to make at least 10 3-pointers in back-to-back games.