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Surprising NBA player breaks 'unbreakable' record for fastest triple-double ever

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Unless you are a diehard NBA fan or live in Denver, you’ve probably overlooked the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic, who quietly is becoming one of the best young big men in the NBA.

The Serbian-born center, who turns 23 on Feb. 19, sent the Nuggets into the All-Star break not only with a 134-123 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, but with the fastest triple-double in NBA history.

Jokic reached the collection of double-figure counting stats in just his first 14 minutes and 33 seconds out on the floor, breaking a mark that was said to be “unbreakable.”

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Records are a bit sketchy, but the previous record for fewest minutes played to reach a triple-double belonged to Jim Tucker, who did it way back in 1955. However, since game tracking and play-by-play stats were a middle-aged lifetime away from still being invented, Tucker’s record was as much legend as hard fact.

Any debates are now purely a matter of historical curiosity; Jokic did it with the scrutiny of the internet and the whole world able to watch on League Pass.

Russell Westbrook had held the previous mark since the NBA began tracking play-by-play data in the 2000-01 season, notching a triple-double after 19 minutes on the floor in a December 2016 game against the Clippers.

Jokic finished the game with 30 points, 15 rebounds, 17 assists … and eight turnovers, but let’s not spoil another great performance with nitpicking over giving the ball away. We have LeBron James’ funky quadruple-double, where he coughed it up 11 times to go with a traditional triple-double against the Pacers back in January, to nitpick over.

Even crazier? Jokic wasn’t the only guy to score 30 points and get a triple-double in the game.

Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo of the Bucks scorched the nets for 36 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists of his own.

It was only the third time in NBA history that players on opposing teams scored 30 points apiece in getting a triple-double.

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The last time it happened? Try 1965, when Johnny Kerr and Dave DeBusschere pulled it off.

The only other time? The participants were Hall of Famers Richie Guerin and Mr. Triple-Double himself, Oscar Robertson, in 1961.

And speaking of elite company, aside from Jokic, only five other guys have ever scored at least 30 points, grabbed at least 15 rebounds and dished at least 15 assists in a game in the history of the league.

You might have heard of some of them; their names are James Harden, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain.

That’s right. Every other guy to do what Jokic did is either in the Hall of Fame or is well on his way to having a strong case for induction when he hangs up the sneakers.

Oh, and you don’t get 17 assists without your teammates helping out by making the shot when you pass them the ball, and Denver made an out-of-this-world 24 out of 40 three-pointers in the ballgame as well.

Milwaukee made nine. If the Bucks hadn’t gotten a superhuman effort from their own All-Star, they might have lost by 30 or more instead of 11.

In addition to doing it in the fewest minutes played, Jokic also got his triple-double in the fastest time, period, in the past 20 years, reaching the mark with 1:54 to go in the second quarter.

Jokic isn’t in this year’s All-Star Game. But at just 23, and with the Serbian fast becoming Denver’s worst-kept secret, he won’t be an All-Star snub for much longer.

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Boston born and raised, Fox has been writing about sports since 2011. He covered ESPN Friday Night Fights shows for The Boxing Tribune before shifting focus and launching Pace and Space, the home of "Smart NBA Talk for Smart NBA Fans", in 2015. He can often be found advocating for various NBA teams to pack up and move to his adopted hometown of Seattle.
Boston born and raised, Fox has been writing about sports since 2011. He covered ESPN Friday Night Fights shows for The Boxing Tribune before shifting focus and launching Pace and Space, the home of "Smart NBA Talk for Smart NBA Fans", in 2015. He can often be found advocating for various NBA teams to pack up and move to his adopted hometown of Seattle.
Birthplace
Boston, Massachusetts
Education
Bachelor of Science in Accounting from University of Nevada-Reno
Location
Seattle, Washington
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Sports




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