NBA: Carmelo sparks memories for Gervin, Thompson
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 16, 2008
By Chris Tomasson
Nearly as fast as Denver Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony was scoring last Wednesday night, the news was traveling to San Antonio.
George Gervin, the Hall of Famer and now a San Antonio Spurs community-relations official, was out and about. The phone rang and it was Gervin’s son, George Gervin Jr., with word that dad’s NBA mark had been tied.
“He told me Carmelo Anthony had just tied your record of 33 points in a quarter,” Gervin said. “He must have had Casper the Friendly Ghost guarding him just like I had Casper the Friendly Ghost guarding me.”
The Nuggets forward put up 33 of his 45 points in the third quarter against Minnesota to tie the mark the Spurs guard set in the second quarter on April 9, 1978, at New Orleans.
How old was the record Gervin broke?
About six hours.
“That’s the shortest record ever,” said former Nuggets guard and Hall of Famer David Thompson, who had set the mark with 32 points in the first quarter at Detroit on the afternoon of April 9, 1978, only to have Gervin break it that night.
Anthony’s showing brought back memories of the epic scoring duel between Gervin and Thompson on that final day of the regular season. Thompson finished with 73 points, but Gervin came back with 63 to win the closest race ever, with a 27.22 average to Thompson’s 27.15.
“I was out and got back and was watching the fourth quarter,” Thompson said from his Charlotte, N.C., home about Anthony breaking his record. “The announcers were saying then Carmelo had 42 points, and they said he had 33 in the third quarter. . . . But you would have thought he would have had more for the game. I was surprised.”
So was Gervin, but for another reason.
“I didn’t expect it’d be Carmelo (tying the mark),” Gervin said. “I thought it would be Kobe (Bryant) or Dwyane Wade or LeBron (James). But Carmelo put the ball in the hole. That’s a pretty hard feat. Records are made to be broken.”
Or at least tied.
Gervin plans to congratulate Anthony at February’s All-Star Game in Phoenix.
Thompson also plans to laud Anthony in Phoenix. Of course, there might be some bantering over which of these players had the hottest quarter.
Anthony shot 12-of-15, including 4-of-5 from three-point range. Thompson was 13-of-14, with the three-pointer not yet in the NBA.
“About eight or nine of them were jumpers,” Thompson said. “The only shot I missed was a dunk. Ben Poquette got a hand on it, and it rolled out. . . . But Melo was pretty awesome. I really like Carmelo. He’s one of my favorite players.”
While Thompson claimed he only focused on trying to win the scoring crown after his phenomenal first quarter, Gervin doesn’t deny that was his goal from the start.
Then-San Antonio coach Doug Moe, now a Nuggets consultant, drew up every play for Gervin. Nuggets coach George Karl, who was then a Spurs assistant but on the road that night scouting, said Moe was “yelling at players who took shots away from Gervin.”
“I was real hot,” Gervin said of his second quarter, which gave him 53 points at halftime and allowed him to take most of the second half off ó the scoring title won. “And we didn’t have the three-ball then. . . . I’m going to congratulate Carmelo, but I’ll tell him I got another record in scoring 63 points in just 33 minutes.”
Anthony got 33, too. And he’s proud of it.