Monster stat lines are great. They are a picture of a moment in time. They show that on a certain date, in a certain game, someone was a star.
Sometimes the stars are the ones you expect to shine. They also might be rising stars, or fading stars, or even just shooting stars—both literally and figuratively (the shooting part anyway).
They, and their stat lines, are ranked here, according to their level of achievement. In the interest of spreading the wealth, I put a cap on each player making the list once.
While it’s hard to give him credit for a great stat line, Kirk Hinrich did have the most assists (14) in a game this postseason with his Game 5 performance, but that’s not what lands him on our list. It’s the 60 minutes he logged.
When you log your playing time in hours, not minutes, it’s a lot of playing time. In fact, according to Basketball-Reference’s Play Index, there has not been a player as old as Hinrich, 32, to log that many minutes in a game as far back as its records go, regular season or postseason.
Finding out later that he played at least part of the game injured is just a little bit awe inspiring.
Hinrich has received accolades for his “grit” this year, accolades which some Bulls fans have mocked, but no one mocked what the old man did in this game.
Chris Paul was effectively without the services of his Lob City partner, Blake Griffin, when the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers faced off for Game 5. Griffin played just 19 minutes and only six in the second half.
Paul may have been born to assist, but without Griffin to feed, he just assisted himself, going off for 35 points, tying his career playoff high.
The rest of the Clippers didn’t seem to pitch in much, and once again the lack of any ability to compensate for any injury whatsoever proved that Vinny Del Negro is the most incompetent coach in the league, as L.A. got clobbered. But don’t hang that on Paul.
Not every great effort ends in a win or a miraculous finish. Sometimes a player just leaves it all out there, regardless of the score and circumstance. Paul deserves a spot on the list for that.
It was nice to see Marc Gasol get his well-earned Defensive Player of the Year award. When he was the return for his brother Pau in a trade between the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers, it was widely regarded as a major rip-off.
However, when you make a trade to build for the future, you can never judge it in the present. You have to wait for the future to happen. And for the Grizzlies, the future is happening right now, and it’s happening in the person of Marc Gasol.
His massive 24-point, 13-rebound, four-assist, three-block game, while anchoring the Grizzlies defense in Game 4, exemplified why. Gasol was a plus-20 for the game and essential to tying the series up at two apiece.
Sometimes I wonder, “What does Al Horford have to do to get any notice?” He is the best player on his team, but Josh Smith seems to get the most recognition. If you talk about the best center in the NBA, or even the top five, Horford’s name isn’t even brought up.
There are two kinds of underrated players. There are the players who are widely viewed as “underrated” and thus become “appropriately rated” or even “overrated.” Then there are players like Al Horford, who when you talk about the players who are underrated still don’t even get a nod. They are the truly underrated.
Al Horford is so underrated, you need a shovel to get to where he’s rated.
Alfred Joel Horford Reynoso does a little bit of everything. And as much as there’s more to his name than you thought there was, there’s more to his game than he gets credit for.
He averaged over 17 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block per game in the regular season. You know who else did that? No one!
Horford also is a defensive beast, but again, he gets no credit. If you look at his on/off numbers, the team defends better, rebounds better, steals better and blocks better when he’s on the court.
So don’t be surprised to find Horford on this list, finally getting some well-deserved recognition for once. His 26 points and 16 rebounds in Game 3 were instrumental in getting back into the series against the Paces and one of the most impressive stat lines we’ve seen this postseason.
Andre Iguodala has been up and down for the Denver Nuggets since they acquired him last summer. An example of the good was his 28-point, nine-assist, seven-rebound game against the Portland Trail Blazers on April 14.
As for the bad, there's the game on December 5 when he scored only five points on 10 shots while coughing up the ball seven times vs. the Hawks.
But it looked like he was saving his best for Game 5 when Denver needed him the most. Iggy went off, scoring 25 points, grabbing 12 boards and assisting on seven more field goals. He added two steals and one block, just for good measure. And the result was the Nuggets stayed alive in their series against the Warriors.
LeBron James takes the extraordinary and makes it look ordinary. So when he had “just another” James-type stat line, with 30 points, eight rebounds and seven assists like he did in Game 4 vs. Milwaukee, it was almost easy to overlook. It’s pretty typical for him.
The regularity with which he does this is in and of itself, another extraordinary thing. He’s had at least 30 points, seven assists and seven rebounds 113 times in his regular-season NBA career; the next-most since 1985 is Michael Jordan with 79.
Keep in mind James still has years of playoff runs to go. By the time he retires he will rewrite the record books.
What do Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Vince Carter and Ty Lawson have in common? They are the active players who have a postseason game in which they scored 35 points and 10 assists.
Lawson’s Game 3 might not have been enough to earn the Nuggets a victory, but it was enough to warrant a spot on this list. When you do something that is matched by that kind of company, it means you’ve done something special.
Lawson is one of the up-and-coming stars in this league, albeit one who is overlooked outside of the Rockies. More postseason performances like this will grab some attention though.
Paul George is “the man” for the first time in his postseason career, and in the first game of the postseason for the Pacers, he secured the 2013 playoffs’ first triple-double.
It wasn’t easy. George had to earn 18 trips at the charity stripe to score 23 points. He added 12 assists and 11 rebounds.
George has had a solid postseason overall, averaging 21.6 points, 10 boards and just below five dimes a game, plus nearly two steals and one block. Only eight other players have put together those kinds of all-around numbers for a postseason. (Note: George would need to up his average in blocks and steals slightly to be eligible for the list.)
Nate Robinson is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. No one could have known what they were getting from him in the Chicago Bulls' Game 4 contest with the Brooklyn Nets though.
Robinson’s 34 points off the bench were the most for a postseason game in eight years. The last reserve player to accumulate that many points was Juan Dixon of the Washington Wizards against the Bulls in 2005.
Robinson’s 23-point fourth-quarter performance was one of the more remarkable closing acts in Bulls postseason history, and that includes a history that has the great Michael Jordan. Jordan scored 24 in his best fourth quarter.
When you factor in the way he led the Bulls back from 14-point deficit with just over three minutes on the clock, the other six points he assisted on, or the miraculous shot to put the Bulls up with 1.7 left in the first overtime, the performance is being lauded by many as one of the great late-game showings in postseason history.
Kevin Durant's 41-point, 14-rebound game almost made the list just because 41-14 makes for a nice palindrome, and I like palindromes, but I had to go for the 38-point, eight-rebound, six-assist effort in Game 4.
The 41-point game did have three more points, but those points came on nearly twice as many field-goal attempts (30 to 16) as his 38-point game.
Kevin Durant is doing his best to carry the Thunder with his friend and costar Russell Westbrook sidelined for the duration of the postseason. He has the two highest-scoring games by a player so far in this year's playoffs.
Stephen Curry has absolutely blown apart the postseason. He has had two magnificent games, and it was tough to choose which one to put on our list. His Game 3, which he decided to pick up and put into his pocket in the third quarter, was outstanding. He scored 29 points and added 11 assists, but as great as that was, it didn’t match his Game 2.
The Warriors had dropped Game 1 on a last-second layup by Andre Miller. They had lost David Lee for the postseason, and they were literally being written off by scribes across the land. Then Stephen Curry made them sweat, and by them, I mean us.
He. Tore. It. Up. Curry went off for 30 points, shooting an effective field-goal percentage of .565. What’s more remarkable is that he did so without getting a single free-throw attempt. His 23 shots were the fifth-fewest field-goal attempts by a player to score 30 without attempting a freebie.
Not only that, he also had 13 assists. The 30-point, 13-assist game has only been achieved 22 times in the playoffs since 1986. The list puts him in pretty elite company.