The day Denver Nuggets guard Michael Adams became the shortest NBA player to record a triple-double
The 5-foot-10 player had 45 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists against the New Jersey Nets
If only there was a do-over for the Western Conference All-Star reserves. Over the course of 12 days and six games, Denver Nuggets guard Michael Adams made a case for why coaches should have voted him onto the 1991 Western Conference All-Star team.
The numbers looked something like the lotto: 27, 24, 31, 37, 41 and 45. Those were Adams’ point totals over that six-game stretch, and the 45 was a career high, which combined with 11 rebounds and 12 assists to make the 5-foot-10 guard the shortest person to record an NBA triple-double on Jan. 31, 1991.
Unfortunately for Adams, the Western Conference coaches had already turned in their ballots for the bench players a week before Denver beat the New Jersey Nets, 123-119. But Adams could rest easy knowing he had powered the Nuggets to their fifth-straight win with the first triple-double of his five-year career, and he had managed to accomplish the feat before the end of the third quarter.
Just over midway through the third period, Adams had 29 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
“I’ve had it going lately,” Adams told the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph. “I’ve heard of scorers talk about how you can feel it when you get going. That’s how I’m going right now.
“I think I was rushing my shot the first half, but I got my rhythm the second half and that’s what I need. The triple-double is really something. I never even thought I’d get one. I really never thought I’d get one with rebounds.”
Adams’ coach, Paul Westhead, could see it coming, though, as the guard had been building up to it since the beginning of the new year. Denver started the season 6-28 but found its groove with a fresh year, winning seven of nine.
“Michael is just carrying us on his back right now,” said Westhead. “He’s shooting the ball phenomenally well. He just has his confidence up, and everything seems to be going in.”
Adams scored 32 points after the half, hitting nine of 15 shots. In all, he was 13 of 30 from the field — which happened to be one of his worst shooting percentages during the six-game streak. But it didn’t matter, as he helped the Nuggets hand the Nets their third loss in a row.
“I’ve never scored like this so many games in a row,” said Adams. “The most points I’ve ever had, I mean ever, was 46. That was high school. And I’ve never had 11 rebounds before in any game.”
Adams wasn’t the only player to have a breakout game for Denver. Guard Reggie Williams finished with a season-high 28 points to help lift the Nuggets to victory.
The final score was much closer than the actual game. Denver had a commanding 105-92 lead with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Nets decided they would play their best defense, doubling and tripling Adams and forcing other Nuggets to score. The Nets went on a 15-0 run and took a 107-105 lead with 3:14 left.
New Jersey held a 111-107 lead when Williams scored four straight points to tie the game, and Joe Wolf then scored on a hook shot over rookie Derrick Coleman to make it 113-111. The Nuggets held on to the lead.
“This was a great win for us,” said Westhead. “It looks like it was all Michael.
“But I thought we won the game with our defense. We had some big stops after they got back ahead. Joe played well. So did Reggie. We had a lot of guys give a great individual effort.”
Adams held the record for 23 years. In March 2014, 5-foot-9 Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas became the shortest player to record an NBA triple-double with 24 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 117-111 overtime win over the Washington Wizards.