Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

NBA Starting 5, Dec. 1: Kevin Durant nears scoring milestone

Kevin Durant is 17 points away from passing Moses Malone to reach the Top 10 in scoring. He could get there tonight.

How many of the top 10 scorers in NBA history can you name?

After tonight, you may need to save room for Kevin Durant.


THE LINEUP 🏀

  1. Must-see from Thursday 👀
  2. KD 17 pts from Top 10 📈
  3. Bulls stun Bucks in OT ⏱️
  4. Warriors celebrate 11-30-23 🌁
  5. Best of November 📊+ 📽️

📺 Sixers-Celtics, 7:30 ET, ESPN

📺 Nuggets-Suns, 10 ET, ESPN

📲 4 more games on the NBA App


1. FRIDAY MORNING MUST-SEE

  • Caruso forces OT, Bulls win: Down two All-Stars, the Bulls stunned the Bucks in overtime after Alex Caruso’s clutch triple at the fourth-quarter buzzer tied the game
  • Heartwarming story: “Come to New York with me and enjoy yourself and get your mind back straight.” Mitchell Robinson’s high school coach talks about living with the Knicks center since the passing of his wife in September
  • Double block: Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert both got their hands on Keyonte George’s shot in the paint, but only Towns was credited for the block. Don’t feel bad for Rudy: he finished with three blocks
  • 40/10 x 2: This isn’t a math equation, but it is a bit of history. Tyrese Haliburton (44 pts, 10 ast at MIA) and Trae Young (45 pts, 14 ast at SAS) marked the fourth time in NBA history that two players 25 or younger had 40+ point, 10+ assist games on the same day
  • Trae takes charge: Ice Trae capped off a monster night with a different kind of clutch: by drawing a game-sealing charge (with a cold reaction, of course)
  • Iso Chet: Holmgren finished with 18 points in OKC’s win over the Lakers, including this bucket as he showed off his isolation game against a tough defender in Anthony Davis
  • Clutch Terry: After Spencer Dinwiddie made it a one-point game in the final minute, Terry Rozier went to work, unleashing a cross-up step-back jumper to help Charlotte get the win

2. CHARTING KD’S CLIMB TO THE TOP 10

Kevin Durant enters Friday’s game against Denver (10 ET, ESPN) needing 17 points to pass Moses Malone and join the exclusive club of the top 10 scorers in NBA history.

This season’s second-leading scorer (31.3 ppg) has topped that mark every game he’s played.

With KD on the precipice of history, we break down his scoring prowess with three charts.

  • Night in, night out: KD is set to enter the top 10 after just 1,003 games. That’s because he owns the fourth-highest career scoring average in NBA history (27.3 ppg), trailing only Michael Jordan (30.12), Wilt Chamberlain (30.07) and Elgin Baylor (27.4) with a minimum of 500 games played
  • Check out Durant’s most dominant moments
  • And put off work a little longer for KD’s top clutch buckets

  • Scoring from everywhere: The phrase “find my spot” doesn’t apply to KD. His spot is the entire court.

    He can beat you inside and outside and is an absolute monster in the midrange. He can create off the bounce or score off the catch. He’s only gotten a small percentage of his career points from the corners, but when he does shoot there, he connects at 44%

  • Deep impact: Durant’s career clutch 3-pointers

  • Scoring against everybody: KD has given opposing players and coaches nightmares since he entered the league in 2007
  • While he’s scored the fewest total points against his former squad in OKC, his 31.9 ppg average in 13 games against the Thunder is the highest against any opponent he’s ever faced
  • Biggest night ever: KD’s career-high 55 points vs. Atlanta

3. SHORTHANDED BULLS STUN BUCKS IN OT

🐂 Bulls 120, Bucks 113 (OT)
🏀 Recap | CHI 6-14, MIL 13-6

  • Caruso for the tie, Bulls for the win: After Alex Caruso’s buzzer-beating 3 forced overtime, Chicago outscored Milwaukee 14-7 in OT to snap a five-game skid despite being without DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. Watch the end of regulation and OT
  • Stepping up: Nikola Vucevic (29) and Coby White (23) combined for 52 points, outscoring the Bucks’ star duo of Giannis Antetokounmpo (26) and Damian Lillard (18)

🔥 Heat 142, Pacers 132
🏀 Recap | MIA 11-8, IND 9-8

🅰️ Hawks 137, Spurs 135
🏀 Recap | ATL 9-9, SAS 3-15

  • Trae takes charge: We’ve seen Trae Young score 45 points before (10 times). We’ve seen him dish 14 assists before (41 times). Thursday was the fourth time he’s done both in the same game (there are only eight other such games in NBA history). But taking a game-sealing charge stole the show. Watch the final four minutes

4. WARRIORS’ DEPTH SHINES IN BOUNCE-BACK WIN

🌉 Warriors 120, Clippers 114
🏀 Recap | GSW 9-10, LAC 8-10

  • Happy 11/30/23: #11 Klay Thompson (22 pts), #30 Steph Curry (26 pts) and #23 Draymond Green (13 pts) combined for 61 in the Warriors’ win on 11/30/23
  • Harden rising: James Harden dished out seven dimes to pass Tim Hardaway for 18th in career assists

🗽 Knicks 118, Pistons 112
🏀 Recap | NYK 11-7, DET 2-17

  • Brunson delivers: Jalen Brunson posted his second 40+ point game of the season (42 pts, 6 reb, 8 ast, 7 3s), while Julius Randle had a near triple-double (29 pts, 10 reb, 8 ast) to lead the Knicks over the Pistons

🐝 Hornets 129, Nets 128
🏀 Recap | CHA 6-11, BKN 9-9

⛈️ Thunder 133, Lakers 110
🏀 Recap | OKC 12-6, LAL 11-9

  • SGA’s streak: The Lakers led by 14 points with 2:21 to play in the opening quarter. The Thunder outscored them 112-75 the rest of the way behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s fourth-straight 30+ point game (33 pts, 7 ast)

🐺 Wolves 101, Jazz 90
🏀 Recap | MIN 14-4, UTA 6-13

  • Wolves roll along: Even with Anthony Edwards sidelined (hip), the Wolves won their third straight and sixth in their last seven games to tie Boston for the top record in the NBA. Karl-Anthony Towns led the way with 32 points and 11 boards

🌹 Blazers 103, Cavs 95
🏀 Recap | POR 6-12, CLE 10-9


5. NOVEMBER BY THE NUMBERS

Happy … 

[checks calendar] 

… Dec. 1!

(Doesn’t seem real to us, either)

If the season’s first full month of hoops felt like it went by in a week, run it back with some of the stats that defined the month – one that saw the first-ever games from the In-Season Tournament (back on Monday).

  • 32.7: Kevin Durant’s scoring average, most of any player. Joel Embiid (32.2) and SGA (32.1) were 2nd and 3rd
  • 13.4: Nikola Jokic’s rebounds per game, tops of the month, and 1.4 a game ahead of second-place Anthony Davis
  • 11.7: Tyrese Haliburton’s assists per game in November, which actually brought down his season average (11.8). That season-long average puts him 1.2 APG over Trae in second

After last year saw an explosion in scoring, 2023-24 isn’t showing signs of slowing down.

  • 229.6: The average total points scored in a game in November, the most since 1969-70
  • 204: Total number of 30-point games, up from 178 last November. Giannis, Embiid & Jokic each had nine
  • 25: Number of 40-point games, led by SGA at four. That’s two more than last November’s total of 23
  • 128.6: Pacers’ month-leading PPG. Their high-powered offense helped Indy become the first team ever to win a game in the In-Season Tournament AND punch a ticket to the Knockout Rounds
  • 56.6%: LeBron’s shooting percentage in November, a month that saw him become the first player to reach 39,000 points

Meanwhile, the season’s first full month saw some stories take shape – from breakout performances to upstart squads to the first-ever In-Season Tournament.

  • 4.9: The average margin of victory on In-Season Tournament night 1, the smallest for a 7-game night in nine years
  • 13: NBA-best number of wins by the Timberwolves, in a month that saw that West-leading Wolves jump out to their best start in team history
  • 2010: The last time a rookie (Blake Griffin) averaged 20+ PPG in 10+ games in November, before Wemby just did it
  • 0: Number of times in NBA history anybody had put up a 26 PT, 16 REB, 18 AST line before Joker did it on Nov. 17
  • 0.0: Time on the clock when Kia Rookie Ladder leader Chet Holmgren sent the game to OT on Nov. 18, before the Thunder beat the Warriors. Holmgren became the second Thunder/Sonics rookie with a 35-10-5 line, joining Kevin Durant
  • 1: Day since Holmgren joined the Starting 5 to write about how a season-ending injury last year and a year off of hoops changed him
  • 8: Consecutive wins the Magic have racked up – including their most recent 139-120 W against the Wizards on Nov. 29. That’s one shy of their longest win streak ever

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