Valentine’s Day in the NBA

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By Henry L. Liao

In NBA history, there have been three 50 points-or-more individual performances and seven triple-double games on Valentine’s Day.

Richie Guerin
Richie Guerin

On February 14, 1962, New York Knicks guard Richie Guerin chalked up 51 points in leading his team to a 125-112 triumph over the Boston Celtics at the old Madison Square Garden. The 6-4 New York-born Guerin went 23-for-36 from the field and 5-for-6 from the free-throw line. He also contributed 10 rebounds and six assists. Guerin’s masterpiece overshadowed Bill Russell’s 18-point, 26-rebound performance in a maximum 48 minutes with the Celtics.

Five years later on Valentine’s Day, Rick Barry of the San Francisco (now Golden State) Warriors torched the Celtics with 50 points en route to a 128-122 victory in Oakland, California. The 6-7 forward made 16 of his 32 field attempts and, with his underhanded free-throw stance, shot 18-for-19 from the charity stripes. He also collected eight boards and five assists in 45 minutes.

Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant

In 2018, Kevin Durant marked Love Day with 50 points in just 37 minutes with the Golden State Warriors but his team dropped a 123-117 road decision to the Portland Trail Blazers. The 6-7 forward, who has been with the Brooklyn Nets since 2019, went 17-for-27 from the field, including 6-for-14 from three-point territory, and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw area. He also had seven rebounds and six dimes.

Of the seven triple-double games on Valentine’s Day, three were registered a year ago.

Mason Plumlee tallied 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as Detroit defeated the visiting New Orleans, 123-112. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokuonmpo had 24 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists but the visiting Bucks fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 114-109. Denver’s Nikola Jokic, the reigning NBA MVP and the league leader in triple-doubles so far this season with 14, finished with 23 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists in the Nuggets’ 122-105 home success against the LA Lakers.

Rick Barry
Rick Barry

In 1966, the hulking Wilt Chamberlain recorded a T-D with 41 points (16-18 FGA, 9-17 FTA), 23 rebounds, and 13 assists in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 149-123 home blasting of the Detroit Pistons at the Convention Hall.

The first-ever triple-double performance on Valentine’s Day came in 1964 when “The Big O” Oscar Robertson of the Cincinnati Royals (the forerunner of the Sacramento Kings) racked up 29 points (11-23 FGA, 7-10 FTA), 21 assists, and 11 boards in a 126-114 win over the New York Knicks at the Cincinnati Gardens.

In 1966, the hulking Wilt Chamberlain recorded a T-D with 41 points (16-18 FGA, 9-17 FTA), 23 rebounds, and 13 assists in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 149-123 home blasting of the Detroit Pistons at the Convention Hall.

Two decades after Chamberlain’s feat, Boston’s Larry Bird amassed 47 points (21-34 FGA, 3-3 3FGA, 2-3 FTA), 14 freebies and 11 assists in 49 minutes as the Celts posted a 120-119 overtime victory over the host Portland Trail Blazers. Note: Larry Legend netted 20 of his 47 markers with the use of his left hand off every non-jumper.

In 2019, while still pledging his loyalty to the OKC Thunder, Russell Westbrook logged 44 points (18-30 FGA, 4-12 3FGA, 4-4 FTA), 14 rebounds, and 11 assists in 39 minutes but his triple-double performance went for naught as the host New Orleans Pelicans triumphed, 131-122. Westbrook is toiling with the underperforming LA Lakers season after failed one-year experiments in Houston and Washington.

Henry Liao
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