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Wednesday, April 3, 2002
"Ice Man" gets hot, wins NBA scoring title

By Larry Schwartz
Special to

April 9, 1978

In one of the great NBA shootouts, David Thompson takes aim first. On the final day of the season, in his attempt to overtake San Antonio's George Gervin for the scoring title, the Denver Nuggets star pours in an NBA-record 32 points in the first quarter on his way to 73 points in a 139-137 loss in Detroit. Only Wilt Chamberlain has ever scored more in an NBA game.

Gervin, playing later in the day in the Superdome, knows he needs 58 points to win the scoring crown. "My, oh my," Gervin says. "I haven't ever hit 58, but I'm going for them."

Amazingly, Gervin almost gets 58 by halftime. After missing his first five shots, the Ice Man gets hot, hitting 10 of his next 13. He scores 20 points in the first quarter and breaks Thompson's extremely short-lived record with 33 points in the second period, giving him 53 at halftime. He wins the scoring title on a 10-foot turnaround jumper with five minutes to go in the Spurs' 153-132 loss to the Jazz.

Gervin finishes with 63 points and an average of 27.22; Thompson averaged 27.15. Gervin shoots 23 of 49 from the field (Thompson goes 28 of 38) and both players are 17 of 20 from the foul line.