TrueHoop: Oscar Robertson
Score 30 points? Check.
Triple-double? No problem.
Game winner at the buzzer? Sure.
LeBron is the first player in NBA postseason history with a triple-double and a buzzer-beater game winner in the same game.
Magic never did it. Jordan never did it. Bird never did it. Not even Oscar or Wilt. Only LeBron.
Not too long ago, the discussion was about how LeBron wasn’t clutch. That no longer seems to be a discussion.
Since LeBron came into the league in 2003-04, nobody in the NBA has made more game-tying and go-ahead shots in the final 24 seconds of playoff games than LeBron, who is 7-of-16 on those shots. His 43.8 field goal percentage on those clutch shots ranks the best in the NBA since his rookie season among players with at least 10 attempts. The league average is 28.3 percent on those shots.
Along with his buzzer-beater layup to defeat the Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, LeBron also made a go-ahead layup with just under 11 seconds remaining in overtime.
The buzzer-beater was LeBron’s first game winner in the final 10 seconds of a playoff game since his buzzer-beater against the Magic in Game 2 of the 2009 Eastern Conference finals.
Coincidentally, that shot came exactly four years ago to the day -– May 22, 2009.
The last time any NBA player made a buzzer-beater to win a playoff game was Paul Pierce for the Celtics in 2010 against the Heat.
LeBron and Ralph Sampson are the only players in NBA history with at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and three blocks in a playoff game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Sampson did it in 1986 for the Rockets against the Nuggets. Blocks became an official statistic in 1973-74.
Since the 2006 postseason, a player has had a playoff triple-double with at least 30 points four times. All four of those players are named LeBron James.
The last player other than LeBron to accomplish that feat was Steve Nash, for the Suns in 2005 against the Mavericks.
LeBron and Oscar Robertson are the only players in NBA history with at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a playoff game four times, according to Elias. LeBron has done it four times, while Robertson has done it eight times.
LeBron now has nine career postseason triple-doubles, which ties him with Wilt Chamberlain for fifth on the all-time list, according to Elias. Only Magic Johnson (30), Jason Kidd (11), Rajon Rondo (10) and Larry Bird (10) have more.
1-- The NBA Finals rematch between the Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder (21–5, .808) against the Eastern Conference leading, Miami Heat (18–6, .750) marks the third time that NBA teams with the best records in their respective conferences have met on this date.
The other instances were in 2005 (Detroit Pistons defeated the San Antonio Spurs) and 2008 (Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics).
2-- Kobe Bryant needs 28 points to tie Oscar Robertson’s record for most career points scored on December 25 (377). Bryant has scored 30 or more points in eight straight games, tied for the third-longest such streak of his career.
3-- The head-to-head matchup of the NBA's leading scorer (Bryant) and the league's No. 2 scorer (Carmelo Anthony) is only the third pitting the NBA's top two scorers head-to-head on December 25.
The other two were Nate Archibald and the Kansas City-Omaha Kings against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Milwaukee Bucks in 1972, and Pete Maravich and the New Orleans Jazz against George Gervin and the San Antonio Spurs in 1977.
4-- The Los Angeles Clippers have won 13 straight games, tied for the third-longest win streak for a team entering a game on this date. The two teams with longer streaks (2008 Celtics-- 19 games, 2010 Celtics-- 14 games) each lost on Christmas Day.
5-- The Bulls are 7-0 all-time at home on December 25. The only other team with an unbeaten home record on this date (minimum three games) is the Cleveland Cavaliers (5-0).
On Thursday, just about every decision James made in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder proved to be the right one. Now he's an NBA champion.
Stat of the Postseason
The Heat became the first team to win an NBA title after trailing in three different postseason series. They faced a 2-games-to-1 deficit against the Indiana Pacers, a 3-games-to-2 deficit against the Boston Celtics, and a 1-game-to-none deficit against the Thunder.
Making History The Heat became the 11th team in NBA history to win a title after losing in the NBA Finals the previous season and the seventh champion to sweep four straight after losing Game 1.
It's hard to believe, but it's true. James picked a good time for his first triple-double of the season. He is the fifth player to record a triple-double in an NBA Finals clincher, the first since Tim Duncan in 2003.
The others, among the best in NBA history, are noted in the chart on the right.
James averaged 30.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists this postseason. It was the second time he has averaged a 30/9/5 combination in a single postseason. He also did so in 2009. The only player to hit those plateaus even once for a postseason was Oscar Robertson for the 1963 Cincinnati Royals.
How did the Heat win Game 5?
The Heat were just too much for the Thunder, both down under the hoop and from the outside.
James was 8-for-11 for 16 points from inside five feet in Game 5. He averaged 14.8 points per game from that close in the Finals, nearly double what he averaged there versus the Mavericks.
OKC had no answer for the aggressive James in the paint, where he scored 18 points Thursday. He had at least 15 points in the paint in each of the five Finals games. He didn’t have more than 12 in any Finals game last season.
The Heat also tied an NBA Finals record with 14 3-pointers in the game, matching the mark previously set by the 1995 Orlando Magic and 1995 Houston Rockets, who each did it once in that series. The Heat were 14-for-26 from 3-point range in the game after combining to go 14-for-39 in Games 3 and 4.
Earlier in the Finals, it was Shane Battier who played unlikely hero. In Game 4, it was Mario Chalmers. In the clincher, it was Mike Miller's turn, as he came off the bench to make seven 3-pointers, one shy of the NBA Finals single-game record. Miller was one of three players on the Heat with at least 10 seasons of NBA experience who won their first title in this game.
Miller, a 12-year veteran, joined 18-year vet Juwan Howard (the first member of Michigan’s “Fab Five” to win a title) and Batter (11th season) in that group.
Is he Michael Jordan? Or is he Oscar Robertson?
LeBron had 26 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds in the Miami Heat’s Game 4 victory Tuesday, plateaus Jordan never reached in an NBA Finals game. LeBron is the first player with those numbers in an NBA Finals game since Larry Bird in 1986.
LeBron has three regular-season MVP awards. When Jordan was LeBron’s age, he had only one MVP.
LeBron is averaging 30.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game this postseason. Jordan averaged at least 30 points per game in each of his last 12 postseasons, but he never averaged as many as eight rebounds per game in a postseason.
Jordan had 22 double-digit assist games and 21 double-digit rebound games in his postseason career, but he had just two postseason triple-doubles.
LeBron already has seven career postseason triple-doubles and was a rebound shy of his eighth in Game 4.
Jordan was certainly known for his scoring prowess, but he never scored at least 25 points in 14 straight games in a single postseason. LeBron has done that twice, in 2009 and his current streak. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, nobody else in NBA playoff history has done that even once.
Only twice previously in NBA history has a player averaged at least 30 points, nine rebounds and five assists per game in a postseason. Robertson did it in 1963 for the Cincinnati Royals, and LeBron did it in 2009 for the Cleveland Cavaliers. If he maintains his averages this postseason, LeBron will add his name to that list once again.
Robertson was known for his triple-doubles. He’s the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season. But LeBron has the upper hand in the playoffs. Eight career playoff triple-doubles would be one more than Oscar had in his career. And let’s not forget that LeBron has plenty of time to add to that total.
Robertson won one NBA championship in his career, and that wasn’t until he was 32 years old. Like LeBron, Oscar didn’t win a ring with his original team. He was traded from the Royals to the Milwaukee Bucks after spending 10 seasons in Cincinnati and finally won one alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And Oscar finished his career with just one MVP award.
LeBron is the first player in NBA history with at least 650 points, 200 rebounds and 100 assists in a single postseason.
Now, he’s one win from his first NBA championship.
Perhaps LeBron isn’t MJ or Oscar or anyone else.
Maybe he’s just LeBron James.
The Elias Sports Bureau reports that he became the first player in NBA history to reach each of those thresholds in a playoff game. Five other players had recorded 40-10-8 games: Tracy McGrady, Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Jerry West and Oscar Robertson (twice).
He was also the first Celtics player with at least 40 points and 10 assists in a playoff game.
Rondo had never played every minute of an NBA game in his career. He is the first player to do so in this year’s playoffs. Dwight Howard played every minute in a playoff game twice last year.
Before Game 2, Rondo had never made more than six shots in a game from 15-plus feet from the basket. On Wednesday, he was actually better from long range than close to the basket.
Rondo was 10-for-12 from the field when he was at least 15 feet from the basket but just 4-for-9 from inside 5 feet. The rest of the Celtics struggled from long range, hitting just 14-of-36 shots.
At halftime, Rondo had outperformed the combination of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Rondo had 22 points, four rebounds and seven assists in the first 24 minutes; James and Wade had combined for 15 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists at that point.
The Celtics led by as many as 15 points late in the second quarter. But the third quarter has been the key for the Heat in the playoffs.
Miami outscored Boston 35-22 in the third quarter of Game 2. In the playoffs, the Heat have outscored their opponents by 87 points in their 10 wins. In three playoff losses, they’ve been outscored by 37.
After shooting 85 percent from inside 5 feet in Game 1, the Heat struggled from that range early in Game 2, going just 5-for-13 in the first half. They turned it around after halftime, shooting 7-for-10 in the second half and 4-for-5 in overtime.
James turned in another 30-point, 10-rebound game. It was his sixth in the playoffs since joining the Heat, moving past Wade for the franchise record. Since he first made the playoffs in 2006, James has more 30-10 games in the playoffs than any other player.
Wade finished with 23 points after scoring only two in the first half. From our friends at Elias, he is the first player to score at least 20 points in 12 straight playoff games against the Celtics since Jerry West did so in 18 straight games from 1966 to 1969.
Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty ImagesRajon Rondo’s triple-double helped the Celtics take a 2-1 series lead over the Hawks.
Rondo became the first player in NBA history with at least 17 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists and four steals in a playoff game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Elias also tells us he’s the first player in NBA history to record a triple-double in a playoff game after missing his team’s previous game.
Rondo triple-doubles equal Celtics wins. In Rondo’s 20 career triple-doubles (13 in the regular season, seven in the playoffs), the Celtics have a 19-1 record. The lone loss came to the Chicago Bulls in the first round in 2009.
Including the regular season and playoffs, nobody has more triple-doubles than Rajon Rondo (20) since the start of the 2008-09 season.
Rondo’s seven career playoff triple-doubles are tied with LeBron James for the second-most among active players, trailing only Jason Kidd’s 11.
Rondo really steps his game up in the playoffs. He notches triple-doubles more than three times as often in the playoffs as he does in the regular season. He’s done so once every 34 games in the regular season, but once every 11 games in the playoffs.
Per Elias, Rondo’s seven triple-doubles in his first 75 playoff games is tied with Kidd for the fourth-most in NBA history. Only Magic Johnson (18), Wilt Chamberlain (8) and Oscar Robertson (8) had more in their first 75 playoff games.
Only five players in NBA history have more than Rondo's seven career playoff triple-doubles. Magic Johnson (30) is the all-time leader in that category.
Rondo has etched his name in playoff lore by joining an elite list of NBA all-time greats.
OTHER CELTICS NOTES FROM GAME 3
• Paul Pierce was 14-of-14 on free throw attempts. Only three times in the past 20 seasons has a Celtic made all of his free throws with at least 14 attempts, and it was Pierce each of those three times.
• Ray Allen came off the bench for the first time in a playoff game. He had started his first 110 career playoff games.
• The Celtics have won nine of their 10 playoff series against the Hawks, with the Hawks’ only series victory coming in the 1958 NBA Finals while the team was located in St. Louis. According to Elias, Boston’s .900 winning percentage in playoff series against the Hawks is the highest any team has over another in NBA history (minimum six series).
- Cornell guard Chris Wroblewski played against Jeremy Lin in Ivy League action and, like the rest of the galaxy, blown away by Lin's run with the Knicks. At HoopSpeak, Wroblewski tells Beckley Mason he had no inkling Lin could play with NBA-level talent: "I mean he could barely shake me or the other Cornell defenders, and we’re nowhere near NBA athletes. The other concerns I had included his inconsistent shooting and the fear that he wasn’t a true point guard and couldn’t guard NBA 2-guards."
- How guarding the Orlando Magic can produce all the anxieties of a standardized math test, from Benjamin Polk of A Wolf Among Wolves: "When their offense is really humming -- when the ball is moving inside-out and side-to-side, when they time their screens precisely -- it presents the defense with a series of ever more hopeless decisions, each one leading them closer to a doorstep dunk or a wide open three."
- Some Spurs fans would like to see Tiago Splitter, who ranks third among San Antonio's big men in minutes per game, get more burn. Andrew McNeill of 48 Minutes of Hell explains that Splitter's injury history provides Gregg Popovich plenty of reasons to go easy on the royal jelly.
- John Kay of the Financial Times takes a stab at debunking philosopher Robert Nozick's old Wilt Chamberlain case study as a way to discuss whether bankers make too much money.
- The Jeremy Lin story continues to carry momentum to strange places, including a discussion about whether Lin racks up assists because "East Asians tend to view scenes more holistically than westerners."
- During the summer of 1979, the Lakers went back and forth on Magic Johnson and Sidney Moncrief.
- MVP debates -- not an invention of the internet. Branson Wright of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tackles the very thorny 1961-62 MVP race between Oscar Robertson, Chamberlain and Bill Russell, who was given the award.
- A typical date with DeMarcus Cousins involves ... (h/t: Trey Kerby of The Basketball Jones)
- Kenneth Faried, hoops romantic.
- Carey Smith of Philadunkia catches up with the leader of a quirky, but spirited, grass-roots movement growing at the Wells Fargo Center during Sixers games. It's called "The Revolutionaries," and they wear funny outfits.
Rose was 3-for-13 from 10 or more feet away, including a miss of the potential game-tying shot with three seconds left in Sunday’s loss to the Miami Heat.
Rose is a 41 percent shooter on shots from that distance at home, but just 31 percent on the road.
Rose, who did finish with 34 points, also missed a pair of free throws late in the game, snapping his string of fourth-quarter free-throw perfection. Prior to those misses, Rose was 29-for-29 on fourth-quarter foul shots this season.
LeBron James led the Heat with 35 points, along with 11 rebounds and five assists. James recorded his 64th career game with a 30/10/5 combination, by far the most in the NBA since his rookie season, 2003-04. The player with the next-most in that span is Dirk Nowitzki with 23.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, James has had at least 15 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in 22 straight games dating to last season, the fifth-longest such streak in NBA history and the longest since Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson in 1965.
James was 6-for-7 from inside five feet and was 5-for-8 from beyond 15 feet, matching his best field goal percentage of the season (63 percent) from the latter distance.
The Heat had seven dunks Sunday, all from James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. The Heat are 5-0 when recording at least seven dunks this season.
Kobe sets a record
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant set a franchise record in Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabaar as the team’s all-time leader in field goals made. Bryant had 14 field goals and 35 points in the win.
Bryant is now the team’s all-time leader with 9,946 field goals made, 11 more than Abdul-Jabaar. Bryant is 54 field goals shy of becoming the 10th player to make 10,000 field goals in the NBA.
Magic stage another disappearing act
For the fourth time in five games this week, the Orlando Magic offense disappeared in the second half. Sunday, the Magic led by 3 at the half but ended up losing to the Indiana Pacers by 21.
In their last four losses, the Magic have been outscored by an average of 50 to 28 in the second half and have shot just 29 percent from the field.
Plus-Minus Note of the Night
Lakers forward Metta World Peace scored only two points, but was a plus-19 in a 106-101 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Also, Cleveland Cavaliers rookie guard Kyrie Irving had 23 points and six assists, including the game-winning layup to close a 12-0 run in an 88-87 win over the Boston Celtics.
The Cavaliers outscored the Celtics by eight points in his 33 minutes of play. Irving has now had three straight games with a positive plus-minus rating.
Cavaliers backup forward Mychal Thompson, playing in his second career NBA game, was the only player on the team to have a better plus-minus than Irving in this contest. He was a plus-9 in his 12 minutes.
Entering Wednesday’s game between the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns, one of the prevailing questions surrounding the Heat was the lack of production from Chris Bosh. While it was known before the season that Bosh was almost certain to be the Heat's third option, the drop in production has been more than most anticipated.
Entering Wednesday, Bosh's usage rate stood at 20.1, the 81st-highest mark in the NBA and his lowest since his rookie season. In fact, it was down from 28.7 in 2009-10, which ranked ninth in the NBA. In other words, Bosh has been much less involved in the offense and has had the ball in his hands fewer times per game.
Wednesday was a different story. The Heat came out with a clear agenda: getting Bosh involved early. He scored 14 points in the first quarter alone, taking the first five shots the Heat attempted and draining four of them. Bosh’s 35 points easily represented a season high, and marked a significant uptick from his 2010-11 production to that point.
While Bosh’s breakout game was certainly the story, the play of teammate LeBron James should not be overshadowed. Since getting off to a relatively sluggish start through his first three games with the Heat, James has taken on the type of facilitator role that many envisioned for him. Over his past eight games, James is averaging 22.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 10.1 APG compared to just 20.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 5.7 APG through those first three games. In fact, those numbers -- 22/6/10 -- have been maintained by just two players over the course of a full season: Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson.
But perhaps the most telling part of James’ effectiveness as a distributor can be seen from the play of the aforementioned Bosh. Bosh has been demonstrably better this season while James is on the court, including Wednesday night.
So while the start of the season has not been without issues for James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade, Bosh’s breakout game Wednesday seems directly tied to James’ effectiveness as a distributor. The fact that Bosh is playing his best when another one of the "Big 3" is on the court suggests that the Heat are learning to play with each other.
Tuesday night's best game was arguably a matchup between a pair of winless teams that held the top two picks in the 2010 NBA Draft. John Wall was the reason why.
In his home debut, Wall put up 29 points, 13 assists and nine steals as the Wizards topped the 76ers in overtime. There's a plethora of interesting notes on that line (many courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau), so let's dig right in:
• Wall is the first player in NBA history to have at least 29 points, 13 assists and nine steals in a single game.
• He's the fourth player in NBA history to have at least 20 points and 10 assists in his home debut.
• Only one NBA rookie has ever had more than Wall's nine steals in a game (steals have been an official stat since 1973-74). That was Ron Harper back in 1986-87.
• Though Wall's nine steals were not a rookie record, they did match the Wizards franchise record. Gus Williams and Michael Adams are the only two other players in franchise history to post nine steals in a game. Additionally, Wall's nine steals represent a Verizon Center record in an NBA game.
• His total of 31 assists through his first three career games are tied for the most in NBA history along with Jamaal Tinsley and Damon Stoudamire. Wall and Stoudamire are the only two players in NBA history to post at least nine assists in each of their first three career games.
• Wall posted eight points in the first half, 17 points in the second half and four points in overtime. He has developed an early knack for taking over games in the second half. Through three NBA games, Wall is averaging 15.7 PPG in the second half (6.7 PPG in first half).
• Six of Wall's steals came in the third quarter. He's the first rookie to notch six steals in a quarter since Rajon Rondo in 2006-07.
Speaking of Rondo, he made some special history on Tuesday as well. The Celtics point guard racked up 17 assists against the Pistons, which gives him 67 on the season. That is the most assists a player has had in his team's first four games of the season in NBA history. Magic Johnson and John Stockton each had seasons in which they compiled 65 assists in their team's first four games.
It's one of the most magical accomplishments in sports history -- Oscar Robertson averaged a triple double for an entire season.
ESPN's John Hollinger has some perspective on that season:
The late '50s and early '60s in general, and the 1961-62 season in particular, were played at such a phenomenally fast pace that it's hard to draw a parallel in today's game. Let's just say the Golden State Warriors would be considered staid slowpokes in 1961-62; the average team scored 118.8 points per game that season.
This is even more amazing when you consider all the bricks that were fired up that season. The league shooting percentage was 42.6 percent, and the true shooting mark was 47.9 percent. For offenses around the league, it was a case of quantity over quality.
Robertson benefited, especially in the rebounding category. Remember, you can get a rebound only if somebody misses a shot. With so many more missed shots to gather, there were nearly 70 percent more chances for a rebound than there are today. With teams shooting early in the clock and mostly missing, four different players averaged over 18 rebounds a game that season -- in an eight-team league!