The NBA brought to Christmas a night like no other.
For the first time in league history, five players scored at least 43 points in a single game. It happened on Friday and Luka Doncic of Dallas recorded 50 points in a game against Houston.
The others were: Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid with 44 points against the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgieus-Alexander with a career-high 44 points against New Orleans, New York’s RJ Barrett with 44 against Chicago. And finally Tyrese Halliburton scored a career-high 43 points against Miami.
“Luca is Luka,” commented Mavericks coach Jason Kidd. “He’s the best player in the world and he showed it last night, once again carrying the offensive load.”
And as he usually does, Doncic didn’t take all the credit.
“My teammates trust me,” he said after a night that included 10 rebounds and eight assists.
The biggest shot of the night may have been Doncic’s 3-pointer in Dallas’ 112-106 win over Houston with 19 seconds left to give the Mavericks a five-point lead.
And he didn’t even have the most spectacular 3-pointer by the high scorer of the night.
That honor went to Halliburton, who made 10 3-pointers, the last of which with 4.3 seconds left to give the Pacers a 111–108 win over the Heat.
When asked about Halliburton’s shot, fast bowlers coach Rick Carlisle said, “Tyrez Halliburton is an artist.” “And you know, some guys who have unorthodox ways of being successful in this game, you have to leave them alone and let them do what they do. The way he puts the ball in the basket, the way The way he looks at the game, the way he connects with his teammates and what a special person he is, that’s his art.”
Embiid’s big night was Philadelphia’s seventh consecutive win. Barrett and the Knicks eventually lost to the Bulls, and Gilgeous-Alexander’s 44 came in an overtime loss to New Orleans that nearly went into double overtime, with a late 40-yard shot. Last 128-125.
“It was close. Not enough,” said Gilgeous-Alexander, whose strong start to the season has cemented him as a frontrunner for the NBA Most Improved Player Award, other post-season honors and, possibly, the Game of the Year. The journey to the stars is not mentioned.
There are already more than 4,400 cases in which a player has scored 40 or more points in a single regular season game. Friday was only the fifth time that five of them have occurred on the same day, and the second time this has happened in 2022.