Happy New Year, NBA fans. The first day of game action is in, and though there were but five games on the slate, we didn’t lack for standout performances. On to the action:
Nurkic’s Never-Before-Seen Statline
Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic is known for filling the stat sheet. And after Tuesday’s 113-108 overtime victory, he’s now the owner of a ledger line all to his own.
Per Elias, he’s the only player to log a 20-20 “5×5” after dropping 24 points, 23 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals and 5 blocks on the Kings, who fumbled away a game they led entering the fourth.
Simply posting a 5×5 is, in and of itself, an incredible rarity. This is just the 21st instance since the league started tracking steals and blocks in 1973-74. Anthony Davis was the most recent player to achieve the feat, doing so earlier this season with 12 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals and 5 blocks against the 76ers on November 21.
And yet, perhaps no single number might carry more weight than block No. 4, which stopped Willie Cauley-Stein cold and sent Damian Lillard out on transition.
Lillard’s layup cut the lead to a single basket, and another pair of blocks later, Lillard — who was sick! — sent the game to OT, where the Blazers quickly pulled away.
Nurkic is averaging 14.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.3 blocks on the year, and is a big reason why the Blazers are hanging solidly in playoff contention yet again. With performances like these, it’s no surprise the “Bosnian Beast” has become a favorite of #NBATwitter.
Kawhi’s Career Night
With Thursday’s first foray to San Antonio looming, Kawhi Leonard appears to be, shall we say … locked in?
Leonard took this game into his (massive) hands during the third quarter, pushing an already solid line toward the spectacular with a 7-for-7 showing that added 19 to the ledger and launched the Raptors to a cushion they’d not relent.
He ultimately finished with a career-high 45 points (16-22 FGs, 13-17 FTs), adding six rebounds and an assist. Offering strong support was Pascal Siakam, who etched a new personal best with 28 points (9-15 FGs, 3-4 FTs), along with 10 boards for the double-double.
Anyone wondering why today was the day for Siakam only needed to check the pregame warmups, where the third-year center was clearly feeling himself.
The Joker runs wild
The night of NBA notables continued rolling in Denver, where Nikola Jokic put up a 15-assist triple-double to help the Nuggets stymie the visiting New York Knicks, 115-108.
Yes, you read that right: 15 assists, linked up with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Throw in three blocks for a line last achieved by Larry Legend.
Nikola Jokic filled the box score on Tuesday, compiling 19 PTS, 14 REB, 15 AST, and 3 BLK. The last player to reach all of those levels in a game was Larry Bird, who did so twice (1982, 1987). pic.twitter.com/yjPX7SsBS3
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) January 2, 2019
The Nuggets’ slick passing big now claims four of the 14 times centers have posted at least 15 assists, with a career-high of 17 coming on last February’s wild 30-15-17 triple-double. Wilt Chamberlain owns nine. The other one?
Giannis yams, jaws drop
Only took a quarter for Giannis Antetokounmpo to ring in the NBA’s new year with a full extension wallop on poor Jon Leuer, who’s officially been GIF’d:
Clippers chippy with Philly
Out in Los Angeles, the Clippers lost to the Philadelphia 76ers 119-113 as things escalated quickly during the fourth quarter. Several feisty exchanges culminated in this double-tech worthy shoving match between Avery Bradley and Jimmy Butler that left both players headed for early showers:
One More Thing to Ponder
Shout out, Matt Doyle. Make your rotations, kids.
Why’d Plumlee do his own teammate like that? 😂 pic.twitter.com/dq6SXRlI7f
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 2, 2019