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On This Day (Dec. 5)
Notable events from NBA history that occurred on December 5.
60 Points, 29 Minutes
On this day in 2016, the Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson scored 60 points in just 29 minutes played in a 142-106 win over the Indiana Pacers. Thompson, who did not appear in the fourth quarter, is the only player in NBA history to record a 60-point game while playing less than 30 minutes:
29 — Klay Thompson (Dec. 5, 2016)
31 — James Harden (Nov. 30 , 2019)
33 — George Gervin (April 9, 1978)
33 — Karl Malone (Jan. 27, 1990)
33 — Kobe Bryant (Dec. 20, 2005)
Thompson is one of only three players in the last 25 NBA seasons to score at least 60 points through the first three quarters of a game:
62 — Kobe Bryant (Dec. 20, 2005)
60 — Klay Thompson (Dec. 5, 2016)
60 — James Harden (Nov. 30, 2019)
Thompson famously dribbled only 11 times in this game. Although I don't have the data to conclude such a thing with authority, I'll go out on a limb and say no player has ever dribbled fewer times in a 60-point game.
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Bryant Reaches Milestone
On this day in 2012, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant scored 29 points in a 103-87 win over the New Orleans Hornets, becoming the fifth player in NBA history to reach 30,000 career points. Since then, two more players have joined the club (Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James).
Bryant finished his career with 33,643 points. He is currently the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history:
38,387 — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
37,480 — LeBron James
36,928 — Karl Malone
33,643 — Kobe Bryant
32,292 — Michael Jordan
Mailman Passes Wilt
On this day in 2000, the Utah Jazz’s Karl Malone had 31 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks in a 98-84 victory over the Toronto Raptors. Malone scored on a finger roll in the second quarter to move past Wilt Chamberlain and into second place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Malone now ranks third all time behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James.
This was one of 16 consecutive seasons in which the metronomic Malone averaged at least 20 PPG and 8 RPG, the longest such streak in NBA history. It’s also the most such seasons in NBA history, consecutive or not.
Career High for Garnett
On this day in 2003, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Garnett tallied 33 points, a career-high 25 rebounds, and six assists in a 112-109 win over the Sacramento Kings. Garnett is one of only seven players since the ABA-NBA merger to record at least 30 points, 25 rebounds, and five assists in a game (a total of eight instances):
Swen Nater (Feb. 3, 1978)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Feb. 3, 1978)
Nater (March 10, 1978)
Robert Parish (March 30, 1979)
Charles Oakley (March 15, 1986)
Chris Webber (Jan. 5, 2001)
Kevin Garnett (Dec. 5, 2003)
Kevin Love (Nov. 12, 2010)
As you can see, Nater and Abdul-Jabbar pulled off the feat on the same day, and Nater did so twice in a 36-day span.
Jermaine O’Neal’s Debut
On this day in 1996, six-time All-Star Jermaine O’Neal made his NBA debut with the Portland Trail Blazers, scoring two points in a 115-104 win over the Nuggets.
O’Neal was just 53 days removed from his 18th birthday. Only one player in NBA history has made his debut at a younger age than O'Neal (age in years-days):
18-006 — Andrew Bynum (Nov. 2, 2005)
18-049 — Jim Browne (Nov. 21, 1948)
18-053 — Jermaine O’Neal (Dec. 5, 1996)
18-072 — Kobe Bryant (Nov. 3, 1996)
18-133 — Darko Milicic (Oct. 31, 2003)
O’Neal is the youngest player to score in his NBA debut. The other players listed above were held scoreless in their first career game.
On this day in 1989, the Milwaukee Bucks’ Ricky Pierce set a franchise single-game record for most points off the bench with 45 in a loss to the Sacramento Kings. Pierce shot 17-26 from the field (including 3-4 from 3-point range) and made eight of his nine free throws. It was the only 40-point game of his career.
Pierce went on to average 23.0 PPG that season, winning his second Sixth Man of the Year Award. Since the NBA began tracking starters in 1970-71, Pierce is the only player to average at least 20 PPG in a season in which he did not start a game.