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By Andy Roth, Contributing Editor - Archive - Email
The Pulse of the NBA
New York, NY (Sports Network) - With the NBA regular season winding down, it's time for a look back at what I consider the top 10 individual performances of the year.

One name is conspicuously missing, and one date on the calendar accounted for two of this season's best performances.

1. Tony Parker, San Antonio: 42 points, 9 assists and 0 turnovers in 39 minutes versus Oklahoma City in a 107-96 Spurs victory Feb. 4.

The four-time All-Star point guard, who I stated last week deserves consideration for the MVP Award, earned the top spot among the top 10 performances for several reasons:

  • It came in a convincing win against one of the NBA's top teams.
  • It was a dominating performance against a fellow All-Star, Russell Westbrook.
  • Along with lighting up the scoreboard, Parker got his teammates involved with his nine assists.
  • Considering how much time the ball was in his hands, the zero turnovers might be the most impressive stat.

    2. Rajon Rondo, Boston: 18 points, 17 assists and 20 rebounds in 48 minutes versus New York in a 115-111 overtime win March 4.

    Rondo is not the best point guard in the game, but you'd be hard-pressed to find another one who could put up these type of all-around numbers. The last player to record a triple-double with at least 17 in each category was over 20 years ago, when Magic Johnson had 24 points, 17 assists and 17 rebounds in 1989. The last player to exceed Rondo's performance in each category was Wilt Chamberlain, who had 22 points, 25 rebounds and 21 assists in 1968. It's one thing for a 6-foot-9 point guard like Magic to put up that kind of rebounding total, but it's truly phenomenal that Rondo, at 6-1, could pull down 20 boards.

    3. Rajon Rondo, Boston: 32 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in 40 minutes versus Chicago in a 95-91 victory March 12.

    I easily could have ranked this performance No. 2, but went with the game against the Knicks because of the 20 rebounds. Even though Derrick Rose didn't play in this game, Rondo's performance came against one of the best defensive teams in the league.

    4. Kevin Love, Minnesota: 51 points and 17 rebounds in 49 minutes at Oklahoma City as the Thunder beat the Timberwolves, 149-140, in double overtime March 23.

    Love almost single-handedly willed the undermanned Timberwolves to victory on the road in what was possibly the most exciting game of the season, and included some other great individual performances. He was 16 of 27 from the field, which included 7 of 11 from downtown, and he hit a 3-pointer with one second left in regulation to send the game to overtime after Kevin Durant nailed a 3 with 3.9 seconds left to give the Thunder the lead. Unfortunately for Love and the Wolves, fellow All-Stars Durant and Russell Westbrook had huge games, too, and it was too much to overcome. Durant put up 40 points and 17 rebounds, while Westbrook had a career-high 45 points. The game also featured the first career triple-double by J.J. Barea, who had 25 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.

    5. Deron Williams, New Jersey: 57 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds in 38 minutes at Charlotte in the Nets' 104-101 victory March 4.

    The impending free agent point guard not only has the top single-game scoring effort this season, but he set a Nets' franchise record. Williams, who outscored the rest of his teammates in the game by 10 points, was a perfect 21-of-21 from the foul line. I may have ranked this game third had it not come against the worst team in the league, and maybe one of the worst ever, in the Bobcats.

    6. Ben Gordon, Detroit: 45 points and 8 assists in 41 minutes at Denver in the Pistons' 116-115 loss to the Nuggets March 21.

    Even though a number of other players who rank lower on this list scored more than Gordon, it's the way he amassed a great deal of his points that night that have him this spot. Amazingly, for the second time in his career, Gordon was 9-for-9 from 3-point range, tying his own NBA record that he shares with Latrell Sprewell for most 3-pointers in a game without a miss. The performance was enhanced by his season-high eight assists.

    7. Dwight Howard, Orlando: 45 points and 23 rebounds in 44 minutes at Golden State in the Magic's 117-109 victory Jan. 12.

    Howard's point and rebound totals helped him make this list, but it was his record-setting free throw attempts (39) that secured the spot. The Warriors employed a Hack-a-Howard strategy and the result was that the Magic center broke Wilt Chamberlain's nearly 50-year-old record for most free throw attempts in a regular-season game (Howard made 21 free throws). Ironically, Chamberlain, who had 34 attempts, set the mark against the Warriors, too, but when they played in Philadelphia.

    8. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City: 51 points and 8 rebounds in 45 minutes in a 124-118 overtime victory over the Nuggets Feb. 19.

    This marked the first time Durant reached the 50-point plateau in his career. He also forced overtime by scoring the last five points in regulation, hitting a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left and a game-tying driving dunk with four seconds remaining. He then scored six of the Thunder's 13 points in the extra session. Also of note in this game was that Russell Westbrook scored 40 points and Serge Ibaka had a triple-double (14 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocks), thus joining Durant as the first trio of teammates in NBA history to put together a 50-point night, a 40-point complementary effort and a triple- double.

    9. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: 48 points in 39 minutes versus Phoenix in a 99-83 victory Jan. 10.

    This was the first of four consecutive 40-plus point games for Bryant. Along with Monta Ellis, it's the second-highest scoring output of the season in a non-overtime game. Kobe also played three fewer minutes than Ellis did in his 48-point outburst. What's most impressive about the performance is that it came just three weeks after Bryant tore a ligament in his right wrist, and he was still receiving injections before each game.

    10. Monta Ellis, Golden State: 48 points and 7 rebounds in 42 minutes in a 119-116 loss to the Thunder Feb. 7.

    It was a career-high game for Ellis as he outdueled Kevin Durant, who finished with 33 points. He was 18 of 29 from the field and 12 of 13 from the line. ___

    If you're wondering how LeBron James didn't make the list, I was shocked to find out in researching this article that "The King" hasn't had a triple- double this season. He did, however, earn a mention in the Honorable Mention list.

    Honorable Mention:

  • LeBron James, Miami: 38 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals at Portland March 1.
  • Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks: 43 points, game-tying 3-point shot in regulation and game-winning 3-point shot in OT versus the Bulls April 8.
  • Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee: 29 points and 25 rebounds at New Jersey Feb. 19.
  • DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento: 41 points and 12 rebounds at Phoenix April 3.

    Copyright 2012

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