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On This Day (Dec. 3)
Notable events from NBA history that occurred on December 3.
Good, Bad, Ugly for Harden
On this day in 2019, the Houston Rockets’ James Harden had one of the strangest games in NBA history in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Harden scored 50 points, becoming just the third player in NBA history to follow up a 60-point game with a 50-point game. The other players to do so are Wilt Chamberlain (14 times) and Kobe Bryant (twice).
Harden set an NBA single-game record by making 24 free throws without a miss, a mark that still stands today. The previous record of 23 free throws made without a miss was held by Dominique Wilkins.
Harden became just the second player in NBA history to make at least 20 free throws in consecutive games. He joined Kevin Durant, who did so on Jan. 18 & 20, 2013.
Harden shot just 4-20 from 3-point range, tying the NBA record for most 3-pointers missed in a game. The was actually the fourth of six career games in which Harden missed 16 3-pointers. He shares the record with Damon Stoudamire, who missed 16 threes on April 15, 2005.
Harden made just 11 of his 37 shots from the field (29.7%), easily the lowest field goal percentage in NBA history by a player in a 50-point game:
29.7% — James Harden (Dec. 3, 2019)
38.3% — Wilt Chamberlain (Oct. 28, 1962)
38.6% — Russell Westbrook (Oct. 28, 2016)
39.6% — Chamberlain (Dec. 26, 1961)
41.1% — Chamberlain (Jan. 24, 1962)
One more note: Harden’s backcourt mate, Russell Westbrook, attempted 30 shots from the field, making just seven (23.3%). It’s one of only eight times since the ABA-NBA merger teammates have each attempted at least 30 field goals in the same game. It’s the only time both players had a field goal percentage less than 30%.
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Chairman of the Boards
On this day in 1991, the Atlanta Hawks’ Kevin Willis scored 29 points and grabbed 31 rebounds in a 103-99 win over the Dallas Mavericks. Since the ABA-NBA merger, only four players have matched or exceeded both of those figures in a single game (a total of five instances):
Moses Malone (twice)
This was the first of two 30-rebound games for Willis that season. He and Dennis Rodman (1991-92) are the only players since the ABA-NBA merger to record multiple such games in a single season.
Rare Effort for Kareem
On this day in 1975, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had 29 points, 21 rebounds, and 11 blocks in a 118-110 win over the Detroit Pistons. Since the NBA began tracking blocks in 1973-74, there have been only three games in which a player recorded at least 25 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 blocks:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Nov. 2, 1975)
Abdul-Jabbar (Dec. 3, 1975)
Hakeem Olajuwon (Dec. 17, 1989)
As you can see, Abdul-Jabbar recorded two of those games in a 32-day span.
On this day in 1946, Philadelphia Warriors rookie Joe Fulks scored 37 points in a 76-68 victory over the Providence Steam Rollers. He attempted 50 field goals, making just 16 of them (32.0%).
Fulks is one of only two rookies in NBA history to attempt at least 50 field goals in a game. The other, of course, is Wilt Chamberlain, who attempted 51 shots from the field on Dec. 30, 1959.
Fulks went on to lead the league in points (1,389) and points per game (23.2) that season. Bob Feerick was a distant second in both categories, scoring 926 points and averaging 16.8 PPG.
Elite Company for Allen
On this day in 2021, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Jarrett Allen scored 28 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and shot 13-17 (76.5%) from the field in a 116-101 win over the Washington Wizards.
It was the fifth straight game in which Allen recorded at least 15 points and 10 rebounds with 70% shooting from the field. He became the first player since Wilt Chamberlain in March 1968 to record at least five such games in a row.
Over those five games, Allen averaged 23.8 PPG and 12.0 RPG with a field goal percentage of 80.3%. He’s one of only three players over the last 50 NBA seasons to average at least 20 PPG and 10 RPG with a field goal percentage of 80% over a five-game span:
Dwight Howard (Feb. 2007)
Rudy Gobert (March 2019)
Jarrett Allen (Nov.-Dec. 2021)
Record Streak Snapped
On this day in 1993, the Atlanta Hawks defeated the Houston Rockets 133-111, snapping the Rockets’ 15-game winning streak. At the time, it was tied for the longest winning streak to start a season in NBA history (1948-49 Washington Capitols). The current mark of 24 straight wins to start a season is held by the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors.
The Rockets proceeded to win their next seven games after this loss. They are one of only three teams in NBA history to win at least 22 of their first 23 games in a season:
1969-70 New York Knicks (finished 60-22, won NBA Finals)
2015-16 Golden State Warriors (finished 73-9, lost NBA Finals)
1993-94 Houston Rockets (finished 58-24, won NBA Finals)